Brazen Retail Theft: What Can be Done About It?

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Brazen Retail Theft: What Can be Done About It? It used to be that organized retail crime (ORC) boosters tried to be subtle about their larceny. Today, many don't even try to hide their crimes. Retailers who've been affected are understandably reluctant to talk about it. Now with customers and other witnesses recording these thieves in the act, along with the associated violence, the problem is finally drawing national media attention. Camera phone footage, taken by customers from across the country, shows brazen thieves carrying armloads of merchandise off shelves and out the front door. They're not deterred by employees, anti-theft devices, or being recorded. And private security guards watch helplessly as the thieves walk past them. The effects of this aren't limited to just the product dollars lost. Employees, already in short supply due to the COVD-19 pandemic, are leaving their jobs out of fear. Customers—some caught in the stampede of criminals—are fearful to return to stores. Entire communities suffer as well when needed resources are forced to close because theft losses are too great. The Unintended Outcome of the Pandemic, Legislation, Social Justice Responses, and Social Media COVID-19 protocols opened the door for the brazen theft we're seeing today. Mask mandates provided criminals with anonymity never previously enjoyed. When stores reopened, reductions in retail staff offered thieves unencumbered access to merchandise. The felony theft threshold in various states also increased due to overcrowded jails and backlogged courts. In some cities, against the backdrop of these events, the response to the social justice movement provided additional incitement. Various politicians and media outlets called to reduce and repurpose law enforcement resources. And some district attorneys announced they wouldn't prosecute shoplifters, and removed the minimal consequences they could face. These factors combined to produce a perfect storm for the brazen retail theft we're witnessing. And it's not only theft: the violence level has also risen in proportion. According to a report, violence and fatalities in retail crime reached an all- time high last year. Over 500 employees, customers, private security, law enforcement, and suspects were killed in 2020. By Scott Thomas - December 9, 2021

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