The problems of Organized Retail Crime (ORC) and recidivist offending have reached record levels and include more violence than ever before.

As the problem gets bigger and the narrative becomes mainstream, things can become less clear though. For example, how do you know if you have an ORC problem in the first place? If a group attacks your store as a “flash rob,” they’re certainly organized but are they part of a larger, criminal enterprise that does this on a regular basis for profit? Perhaps not.

It’s hard to know for sure, unless you have the right tools and information. It also depends on what your definition of ORC is, as the scope of ORC crimes varies significantly across the retail industry. Each organization will likely have its own specific definition based on the particular crimes they’re experiencing and their top concerns.

Why does defining ORC matter?

The answer is found in legislation that has identified the scope and impact of ORC on our society and allowed for greater prosecution and punishment for crimes that are identified as such. The District Attorneys have made it clear they have little interest in “shoplifting” but will pursue every ORC case you bring them. Additionally, identifying these groups and establishing that they are doing this again and again – and perhaps across state lines – brings the crime into the Federal Jurisdiction.

Let’s dive into the thought process for distinguishing ORC from other types of retail crime.

There are three factors typically found across the board when it comes to ORC: organized, repeat, and profit-driven. Based on these elements, here are three questions to start with when determining if you have an ORC problem.

1. Organized

Am I being intentionally targeted by two or more people offending, who deliberately plan and carry out criminal activities in my stores?

The intentional and coordinated manner of criminal activity is what differentiates ORC from a random, one-off shoplifting attempt. However, without the right intel, it can be difficult to ascertain whether the “organized” element of ORC is present or not.

Some telltale signs include:

  • The same type of products keep disappearing off your shelves.
  • Multiple pieces of the same product are being stolen at once, indicating they have been stolen for reasons other than personal use.
  • You’ve noticed the same people together, who keep returning to your store to commit crimes.

Additionally, ORC crimes are usually committed by more than one person and typically involve a large network, from the ones doing the shoplifting, to the fence, to the leaders of crime rings that ORC activity feeds into.

2. Repeat

Am I repeatedly seeing the same people who offend?

Are you noticing the same faces coming through your store and committing crimes? Perhaps someone wearing the same clothing, or with a distinguishing feature like a tattoo, piercing, or unique hair cut?

ORC subjects tend to steal from stores more than once, relying on a lack of visibility and oversight on the part of the retailer to hide their activities. Our data shows that just 10% of people who offend are responsible for 60% of reported crimes.

If you’re noticing the same people returning time and time again to steal from you, then you could be experiencing an ORC problem.

3. Profit-driven

Are these crimes being committed with the aim of financial profit, through the theft of items that can be used to make money?

ORC often involves the theft of items for financial gain, rather than personal use. Common examples of this include the theft of baby formula to be resold overseas, and stolen health and beauty products being sold online in bulk and/or at suspiciously low prices.

These items tend to be highly valued, in high demand, easy to steal (for example, through concealment), and easily accessible.

This can also be difficult to assess accurately without the right tools and without conducting thorough investigations to track where the stolen products are going.

Identify your ORC problem with Auror

These three questions are by no means an exhaustive list on whether you have an ORC problem or not. What ORC looks like to you and your organization might be wildly different to another retailer, so it’s important to truly understand what is going on in your particular situation.

That’s why using a Retail Crime Intelligence platform like Auror has been life-changing for so many organizations. Instead of just recording information and having it disappear into a void, it’s put to good use through the platform to help retailers identify the people causing the most harm and to prevent incidents before they occur.

To learn more about why solving ORC matters and how you can take action, read our article on The Intel blog.

January 23, 2023
Organized Retail Crime

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