Targets, Trends, and Threats in ORC

In a recent webinar CONTROLTEK hosted in conjunction with the Loss Prevention Foundation, I was joined by Ben Dugan, CFI, director of ORC and corporate investigations at CVS Health, and president of the National Coalition of Law Enforcement & Retail (CLEAR).

With organized retail crime (ORC) at the forefront of everyone’s minds, this timely discussion centered around targets, trends, and threats impacting retailers today. “Organized retail crime is the number one contributor to ongoing security threats in the retail industry today,” said Dugan. While the COVID-19 pandemic certainly plays into this, Dugan stated that “retailers are considering ORC their number one challenge—this is what keeps them up at night. There is an increase due to COVID, but also an increase in the associated violence that goes along with ORC.” Dugan also noted that some retailers have seen incidences involving external theft along with violence double since COVID-19, due to emboldened thieves.

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Targets, Trends and Threats in ORC Webinar: What You Need to Know About Organized Retail Crime in 2021 and Beyond 

CONTROLTEK recently partnered with the Loss Prevention Foundation to present the webinar “Targets, Trends and Threats in ORC” with co-host Ben Dugan, director of ORC and corporate investigations at CVS Health and president of the National Coalition of Law Enforcement and Retailer (C.L.E.A.R.), and Tom Meehan, CFI, chief strategy officer, and chief information security officer at CONTROLTEK.

Short for organized retail crime, ORC has moved to the forefront of the conversation in retail. In fact, Dugan and Meehan both agree that ORC is the most dangerous security threat in the retail industry today. Many retailers consider organized retail crime to be one of their biggest challenges, with many companies unable to meet their profit goals because of the losses caused by ORC. 

Since 2020, we have seen a huge increase in ORC, fueled by the COVID-19 pandemic and an increased shift to e-commerce. One of the major issues in the fight against organized retail crime is the ongoing controversy between e platforms like Amazon and eBay and retailers and law enforcement, who claim that these platforms facilitate the sale of stolen goods by failing to verify sellers. 

The increase in organized retail crime has huge costs across the retail industry. Dugan reported that external thefts involving violence have doubled at CVS Health since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. The Wall Street Journal reported that retailers like Target, Ulta Beauty, TJX, and Home Depot have seen the number of investigations into criminal networks grow by 86 percent since 2016. Organized retail crime has become such a huge challenge for retailers that it has surpassed loss prevention, and even the C-suite is now prioritizing combatting ORC in order to protect profitability. 

C.L.E.A.R. estimates that organized retail crime results in $45 billion in annual losses for retailers, a significant increase from the FBI’s estimate of $30 billion a decade ago. Today, retailers spend millions of dollars to combat organized retail crime groups that steal their merchandise and sell it online through e-commerce platforms. According to C.L.E.A.R., 100 percent of retailers surveyed reported being victims of ORC. 

Organized retail crime has also surpassed other sources of retail shrink. Today, the cost of ORC exceeds that of internal employee theft, and according to Dugan, external theft makes up 60 to 65 percent of retail theft. Although investigating cases of organized retail crime does reduce shrink, it’s not a sustainable long-term solution without any major preventative efforts, such as widespread collaboration between retailers and law enforcement and even creating new legislation. 

As mentioned earlier, the rise in online shopping and e-commerce has fueled organized retail crime by giving thieves more opportunities to sell stolen goods. Although the online marketplace has been on the rise since 2017, since the COVID-19 pandemic, consumer demand for online shopping has exploded. 

Amazon and eBay are the top e-commerce platforms today, not just for legitimate retailers and businesses but for organized retail crime groups as well. E-commerce platforms typically do not verify sellers’ identities and payment methods, which reduces the risk of being caught for thieves who sell stolen goods online. Today, ORC groups even sell stolen merchandise on mainstream social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and Reddit. 

Bringing more attention to the issue of organized retail crime can help law enforcement discover more cases and catch more thieves. Before 2020, many law enforcement groups and local governments were completely unaware of the rising threat of ORC, which left the burden of deterring theft and investigating ORC cases to retailers. But as retailers, federal agencies, and police departments continue to work closely together on ORC, law enforcement can work on real ORC cases and actually mitigate the issue. 

For nearly two years, the rapid digitization of almost every industry has ushered in some exciting changes for both consumers and businesses, while also increasing the risk of organized retail crime, cybersecurity threats, and much more. As retailers continue to combat ORC, it is essential for them to collaborate, share information and build effective strategies to protect their businesses and their customers. 

Please feel free to reach out to either Tom Meehan or Ben Dugan with any questions you may have about these topics. Organizations like C.L.E.A.R., are also here to support retailers in every facet of their loss prevention strategy. Don’t forget to check out the 2021 C.L.E.A.R. Conference, November 16-18, 2021, in Orlando, Florida. In addition, the Buy Safe America Coalition has numerous resources and ways to get involved and aid in the protection of consumers and communities from the sale of counterfeit and stolen goods.

Why You Should Invest In Tamper Evident Cash Bags for Your Retail Store

Many retailers are familiar with the cash handling process, which is a necessary but sometimes time-consuming part of managing retail operations. In addition to counting cash every day and recording these deposits, you must also store and transport cash, often working with a cash-in-transit (CIT) company to move deposits from your stores to your bank.

Along with more common retail security products like EAS and RFID systems, tamper evident bags can improve the internal security of your retail store while also increasing the efficiency of bank transfers. Today we’ll go over how tamper evident bags can support your retail operations using multiple types of security features to indicate tamper attempts and deter theft.

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Choosing the Right EAS Tags for Your Retail Security Solution 

Since the COVID pandemic broke, shoplifting has more than tripled across the country. This is why now, more than ever, retail managers and leadership teams should focus on choosing the right EAS tags for retail stores to help deter and prevent shoplifting. When choosing the right EAS tags to protect your merchandise it all comes down to some specific factors, including the product types you sell and the existing electronic article surveillance (EAS) system you have set up in your store.

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These are the Retail Security Products Every Store Manager Should Invest In

Most retail stores post signage stating that shoplifters will be prosecuted, as well as signs that let shoppers know they are on camera. However, these types of anti-theft devices for retail stores aren’t effective, as billions of profits are lost every year due to shoplifting, in stores with this type of signage. If you manage a retail store, then loss prevention is one of your primary responsibilities. There are a wide range of retail security products for all types of merchandise that will help significantly in preventing shoplifting in your store. This article is intended to introduce you to some of the most cost-effective retail security products that will deter shoplifting and help protect your profits and merchandise.

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Choosing the Right EAS Tags for Your Retail Security Solution

Since the COVID pandemic broke, shoplifting has more than tripled across the country. This is why now, more than ever, retail managers and leadership teams should focus on choosing the right EAS tags for retail stores to help deter and prevent shoplifting. When choosing the right EAS tags to protect your merchandise it all comes down to some specific factors, including the product types you sell and the existing electronic article surveillance (EAS) system you have set up in your store.

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The 5 Secrets to Protecting Cash Deposits

According to the annual National Retail Security Survey, “Theft, fraud and losses from other retail “shrink” totaled $61.7 billion in 2019, up from $50.6 billion the year before as industry security executives reported increases in the number of shoplifting, organized retail crime and employee theft incidents.”  These drains on the bottom line can take a big chunk out of profits.

By their very nature, retail operations present numerous opportunities for employees to steal. Investigators can be faced with a myriad of factors that must be scrutinized and evaluated when looking at cases of suspected theft, including employees with sticky fingers who are trusted to deliver cash deposits to banks. Removing a few tens or twenties can be easy and go unnoticed. But there are others in the loop (armored-car drivers, bank employees, etc.) who also handle large sums of cash. The FBI uncovered $600,000 from a backyard in a California neighborhood. It seems two armored-truck drivers helped themselves to money being transferred from a bank vault. In another case a bank employee helped herself to cash that a local business had dropped off in a night deposit box.

Protecting Cash Made Simple

Some fixes to deter employee or customer theft can be quite extensive and technologically advanced, requiring extensive training, expensive equipment, and tons of resources.

Other ways to combat missing cash are easy to implement, such as having the relevant and necessary supplies for managing cash transactions. One simple deterrent to cash theft is engaging in the proper handling and transferring of cash.

5 Guidelines to Help Protect Collected, Transferred, & Deposited Cash:

  1. Follow best practices for hiring and training employees. Develop an anti-theft plan to include situation assessment and delineation of consequences. Be sure all employees handling money at any stage in the customer-to-bank deposit transaction period understand their responsibilities to the company. Trained security personnel must be constantly on the alert for possible theft and company investigators should be schooled in proper interviewing and reporting techniques for theft cases.
  2. Using a 2-person check, or dual sign-off, for cash transfers will deter individuals from considering stealing some of the money in their care. Also referred to as “separation of function”, this includes requiring one person to count the cash while another person verifies the amount and completes the deposit slip, or having one person seal or lock the money bag while another person verifies the seal or retains possession of the key.
  3. Install video cameras in the areas where cash is stored or transferred. Cameras can provide hard evidence in a theft case but more importantly, they are a deterrent to preventing thefts from occurring.
  4. Check your accounts in a timely manner. Make sure all deposits show up in your bank statement. Monitor all bookkeeping records. Engage in periodic, unannounced, unscheduled auditing of bank accounts.
  5. Utilize proper cash deposit bags. Currency bags should safely store money and protect it from theft as it changes hands. There are locking bags or tamper-evident currency bags, all with mid-level and maximum level security options. This added security level makes thieves think twice before reaching into a sealed money bag.

Proven Cash Protection Solutions

At CONTROLTEK, we understand that theft is not always perpetrated by store employees. There are many cases where the theft occurs after the cash has left the hands of the employee. We help ensure your cash is protected from armored car drivers and bank employees as well!
The CONTROLTEK SafeLok bag incorporates our “press2Lok” seal technology, utilizing a high security void tape with an in-line closure. This void tape is specially formulated to display void evidence when subjected to heat, cold, or chemicals.
Typically used for deposits, this bag comes in a large array of sizes and styles including internal and external pockets for checks and deposit slips. High performance films and side seams meet all Federal Reserve guidelines. The high-definition void graphics on this “easy to seal” bag make it a deterrent against theft as well as a favorite for high volume cash users.
To help prevent cash loss, contact CONTROLTEK today.

[This article has been updated to reflect the 2020 National Retail Security Survey]

Is Your Retail Store Security Up to Date?

Preventing shoplifting is one of the most straightforward ways retailers can reduce shrink in their inventory. Sending a strong message of deterrence to thieves relies on having reliable retail store security to show that you are taking loss prevention seriously. These retail security measures can vary from tried-and-true physical security techniques to implementing cybersecurity protection in your store.

How to Maintain Your Retail Store Security

Use retail security solutions that work for you. If you are a smaller retailer, it is probably not necessary to buy the latest security system equipped with artificial intelligence. Instead, invest your money in more affordable technology, such as an EAS system at entry and exit points, security cameras throughout your store and scanners and barcode labels to manage your inventory.

Examine your store to figure out which retail security measures you need. Perform regular checks on each part of your store to identify areas prone to security breaches, such as low-visibility corners and shelves with high-value items. You should also take note of high-risk items in your inventory, such as cosmetics, luxury goods and pharmaceuticals. After examining your store layout and your inventory, you can then decide if you need to implement new security measures, such as adding security cameras to areas of low visibility, or simply adjust your strategy.

Be aware of digital threats to retailers. Today’s evolving technology makes it easier for thieves and other malicious actors to take advantage of retailers who are not aware of these threats. These cyberattacks include website hacking, customer data breaches and card skimming. The best way to protect yourself and your customers from digital threats is to ensure that your software is up to date and that you are using appropriate security measure to protect customer data. To protect customers’ credit card information, you should make sure your payment processing system is PC compliant and that you can accept EMV or chip payments. 

Train your employees to be aware of your retail security measures. Your retail security solutions only work as well as the store associates who use them. As part of a new employee’s training process, include an overview of your store’s retail security and demonstrate these security measures to make sure they understand. This can include showing them how to properly deactivate and detach security tags or what to do if your retail security system has triggered an alarm. If you have a specific procedure for something, it can be helpful to post guidelines in the stockroom, break room or behind the counter for your employees.

Perform regular loss prevention audits. Set up an LP checklist for your store and have your LP team or a third-party professional go through your store to check if your retail security measures are working correctly. This list will vary for every retailer, but some common points include:

  • Is the retail security system functioning correctly?
  • Are the POS keys kept in a secure location?
  • Are you restricting store access to store personnel during business hours only?
  • Are you limiting high-risk transactions and POS tasks to authorized personnel only?
  • Have all items been tagged with a security tag and/or barcode?
  • Does everyone on your team understand store policies about issuing refunds, voiding transactions, etc.?

Update Your Retail Store Security with CONTROLTEK

If you want to take the next step in improving your retail store security, CONTROLTEK has a wide range of cost-effective retail security solutions to meet your needs. From visual deterrence security tags to LP system installation and deployment, we will work with you to update your retail security and get the ROI you expect. Contact us today to connect with our team of experts and start fighting shrink today.

How to Prevent Shoplifting

According to the National Retail Federation (NRF), external shoplifting accounts for 36.5 percent of retail inventory shrinkage. Retailers should prioritize protecting their merchandise because it is their key investment and source of revenue. In order to do that, you need to have the right tools and training to prevent your store from being targeted by shoplifters.

Reevaluate your shoplifting prevention strategy.

If you already have a shoplifting prevention plan in place but still struggle with shoplifting incidents, then you need to take another look at your strategy and make regular updates to account for new developments in loss prevention. Your shoplifting prevention strategy should include how to deter thieves as well as what you will do if you catch a shoplifter in your store. Some questions to ask yourself to figure out how you will handle a shoplifter are:

  • Will we try to deal with the situation with our in-house loss prevention team?
  • Will we involve the police?
  • Do we have a price threshold to determine how we should act next? Example: if we catch a shoplifter stealing more than $100 worth of merchandise, we will call the police.

Train your store associates to identify familiar shoplifting methods.

Although profiling is strongly discouraged in loss prevention, it is still valuable to learn how to spot common shoplifting techniques. For example, shoplifters rarely work alone. They typically work together and have one or more accomplices who distract your employees while another steals your merchandise. Other shoplifting methods include switching price tags, making fraudulent returns or removing security tags in the fitting room. Shoplifters will also often use bulky items such as strollers, umbrellas, backpacks and large handbags to hide stolen goods.

Identify suspicious behavior.

Train your staff to keep an eye on customers exhibiting the following behavior:

  • Watching the store associates
  • Picking up random items
  • Taking several items into the fitting room but coming out with fewer items

Add a retail security system.

Though security system services do have costs, they will also help you reduce theft, so you will see a solid ROI on your security system soon. Electronic article surveillance, more commonly known as EAS, is the most common retail security tagging system. An EAS system will not only trigger an alarm in your store if a shoplifter attempts to steal something but also deter thieves from trying to steal your merchandise at all.

Keep an eye on your fitting rooms.

Though it is tempting to leave your fitting rooms unattended during quiet periods, this leaves an opportunity for shoplifters to sneak in, defeat any security tags and steal your merchandise while you aren’t looking. When there are little to no customers trying on clothes, encourage your store associates to monitor the fitting room area so no one can enter without having their number of items checked.

Invest in other anti-shoplifting devices.

In addition to an EAS system, you can install other anti-shoplifting devices to help protect your store from thieves. There are many options available for protecting your fitting rooms, which is a shoplifter’s favorite area in a store to defeat tags and steal merchandise. For example, CONTROLTEK’s ApparelGuard detects magnet detachers and catches shoplifters in the act, while the HyperGuard can be installed at your store’s entrance to detect booster bags and stop shoplifters before they can steal anything.

Secure your high-risk merchandise.

Small, high-value items are the most likely to be stolen by shoplifters. Merchandise such as small electronics, accessories, leather goods and cosmetics are easy for shoplifters to sneak into a pocket or purse, but the theft of these items will add up for you. You can secure these items with specially designed security tags, such as CONTROLTEK’s DualTech PadLock as a shoe security tag or the FlatGuard to protect wallets and other small leather goods.

Protect Your Merchandise from Shoplifters with CONTROLTEK

Our arsenal of retail security solutions offers many possibilities for retailers to protect their merchandise, from traditional and cost-effective EAS tags to more advanced RFID tags and systems to manage your inventory while deterring thieves. Contact us today to find out which retail security system will work for you and your store.

Why Do You Need a Fitting Room Security Solution?

For many clothing retailers, the fitting room is one of the biggest challenges in the battle against shoplifting. One of the best ways you can enhance your retail security is by adding a fitting room security solution to your arsenal.

Fitting Room Theft

A fitting room is a necessary part of any clothing retail store because it gives your customers a private space to try on clothing and decide if they want to purchase it. But the issue that comes with offering customers this privacy is that shoplifters will inevitably take advantage of it.

The best way to protect your fitting rooms is to install security solutions specifically designed for them. These solutions can detect the presence of booster bags, which is a type of bag lined with multiple layers of aluminum foil that provide electromagnetic shielding to prevent clothing security tags from being detected by the antennae of retail security systems.

Some other ways to deter theft include:

  • Fitting room attendants who count garments in and out
  • Visible security cameras and public-view monitors outside a fitting room entrance
  • Fitting rooms located in high-traffic areas
  • Chimes to alert store associates when a customer enters and exits a fitting room area

Catch Shoplifters in the Act with CONTROLTEK

CONTROLTEK’s fitting room solutions use the latest technology to help you fight fitting room theft. The ApparelGuard detects magnet detachers to catch shoplifters in the act, while the HyperGuard detects booster bags to stop shoplifters before they can make their move. Contact us today to learn more about deploying these retail security solutions in your store.