For the past few years, retailers have been the victims of rising theft and an unrelenting surge in organized crime. A 2022 study from the National Retail Federation found that organized retail crime increased by 26.5% for U.S. businesses in 2021, resulting in over $94.5 billion in losses. Keeping products on the shelf hasn’t been the only challenge, with eight in 10 stores reporting that violence and aggression associated with incidents increased as well. This trend presents an even greater concern for small businesses, which have fewer resources available to respond.
What’s driving this spike in organized retail crime? e-Commerce. Disguised among the millions of legitimate third-party sellers, thieves turn to online marketplaces to quickly resell stolen goods. The internet has allowed crime rings to fly under the radar while reaching unsuspecting consumers across the globe.
In response to this uptick in stolen and trafficked goods online, President Joe Biden signed the INFORM Consumers Act at the start of the year. The goal of the legislation is to insert transparency and accountability into e-commerce transactions by requiring online marketplaces to verify the identities of high-volume, third-party sellers and disclose basic information to shoppers and law enforcement. While the Inform Act won’t curb the sales of counterfeit and stolen goods altogether, supporters say the verification process – which includes government ID, tax ID, bank account information and contact information of third-party sellers – will help nab bad actors. Sellers that don’t comply with the authentication rules could be suspended or face legal penalties from state attorneys general as well as the Federal Trade Commission.
What else can retailers do in the fight against organized retail crime? Plenty.
This federal crackdown on online trafficked goods is set to take effect in June 2023 with the hopes of bolstering both safety and the bottom line at retail locations across the country. While the passage of the INFORM Consumers Act is considered a victory for big box retailers and small businesses alike, organized retail crime is a multi-faceted challenge and requires proactive measures from all stakeholders to deter increasingly dangerous crimes.
There is no better deterrent against crime than a uniformed, visible police officer. Uniformed officers’ mere presence and authority makes potential criminals think twice. They know that, should the need arise, an officer can call in the full force of the law quickly and criminal charges will follow. According to a recent survey, 70% of Americans are more likely to shop at a store or visit an entertainment venue that has onsite security.
Summit Off Duty Services manages off-duty officer staffing for businesses across the U.S. Summit draws from a bench of over 75,000 officers and over 1,400 law enforcement agencies to expertly manage the entire off-duty officer program – from placement to payment and liability coverage – so you can focus on your business.