Today’s retailers face enough problems without adding an increase in organized criminals targeting their stores. Unfortunately, though, that’s just what they’re dealing with. On top of recent supply chain issues and employee shortages, store owners have been reporting what seems like an ever-increasing number of smash-and-grab robberies.
Why Are Rates of Organized Retail Crime (ORC) on the Rise?
- Criminal activity tends to increase when at least one of three conditions arises.
- Economic or social conditions become unstable
- The likelihood of getting caught is low
- There are fewer punitive consequences for those who do get caught
Unfortunately, the past few years have seen all of these conditions met. The COVID pandemic and subsequent economic and social unrest left some people feeling desperate enough to turn to crime. Because ongoing employee shortages followed in the aftermath of the pandemic and economic downturn, there are now fewer people on staff to observe or prevent retail theft. Even those criminals who do get caught now face only minimal, punitive consequences as a result of reduced law enforcement resources and changing social standards.
Understanding the Consequences of These Supposedly “Victimless” Crimes
Many well-meaning but misguided Americans believe that raising the felony threshold for thefts and reducing enforcement of laws aimed at reducing non-violent crime can help to reduce social inequality. What those who make this argument fail to see is that retail theft is not actually a victimless crime. It directly or indirectly harms not just store owners but also employees, customers, and the greater community.
Employees, understandably, become afraid to work in environments where organized attacks could happen at any time, leading many to quit. Customers, similarly, become uncomfortable going to their local stores out of fear of encountering dangerous criminals. As profits drop, store owners are forced to close their doors, taking both jobs and resources away from the local community and harming people who had nothing to do with the crimes taking place.
Turning to Modern Technology for Effective Solutions
One way for retailers to fight back against rising rates of ORC is to get organized themselves through the use of collaborative evidence management. It’s often the case that the strained policing and legal systems are unable or unwilling to catch and prosecute suspects after just one crime. However, if the same suspects can be shown to be engaging in a pattern of behavior that supports criminal enterprise, that’s a different story.
Retailers who are able to compile videos and other forms of evidence and post them in a secure location can band together to spur local law enforcement into action. Collaborative evidence collection makes it easier for law enforcement officers to uncover patterns and track down repeat offenders. Over time, the worst offenders become incarcerated and those that remain on the streets become less brazen thanks to the fact that there are now consequences for their actions.
It’s Time to Take Charge
Store owners who are looking for retail security solutions have plenty of options. Collaborative evidence collection is just one of them, but it’s one of the most effective ways to band together and fight organized criminals.