As defined by the National Retail Federation (NRF), organized retail crime (ORC) is the large-scale theft of retail merchandise with the intent to resell the items for financial gain. ORC typically involves a criminal enterprise employing a group of individuals who steal large quantities of merchandise from a number of stores and a fencing operation that converts the stolen goods into cash. Stolen items can be sold through online auction sites, at flea markets and even to other retailers. In addition to targeting stores, ORC gangs engage in cargo theft activities. They also commit other frauds such as using stolen or cloned credit cards to obtain merchandise, changing bar codes to pay lower prices, and returning stolen merchandise to obtain cash or gift cards. ORC is distinct from ordinary shoplifting committed by individuals seeking goods for personal use.

External theft, which includes ORC, is a primary driver of retail “shrink,” which reached $94.5 billion in 2021 — up from $90.8 billion from 2020 — according to NRF’s latest National Retail Security Survey. The report found that retailers saw an average 26.5% increase in ORC incidents in over the previous year. Retailers also reported an increase in violence and aggression associated with ORC.

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The Response

Partnerships between law enforcement and retail investigators are forming to combat the problem.  These associations share cross jurisdictional information to identify, disrupt, and apprehend ORC crews.

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  Upcoming SDORCA Events

September 26, 2023 - Tuesday
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San Diego, CA - Costco Regional Offices
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