Adel Sayegh Ceo Universal Surveillance Systems
Most people outside of the retail industry are surprised to learn that Organized Retail Crime, known as ORC, costs all California business owners money. Fully 85% of retail establishments will be victims of ORC. Yet non-retail businesses will feel the effects of ORC as well. The FBI estimates that more than $30 billion dollars is lost to ORC theft annually, with $5 billion of those dollars lost in California. As a consequence, the Californians will miss out on $237 million dollars in sales tax due to unpaid merchandise leaving legitimate businesses and entering the market in a criminal manner. With Gov. Schwarzenegger recently announcing that the residents of California must prepare for tax increases and state service cuts, it is clear that the $237 million dollars in tax revenue would come in handy during these difficult financial times.
The shocking reality of these financial losses to business and government from ORC is compounded by the way in which the perpetrators of Organized Retail Crime are currently being prosecuted in our court system. Currently, a child who steals a pack of gum or a teenager who swipes a shirt is prosecuted under the category of "petty theft." A member of a massive, highly organized crime ring that works with others in a coordinated effort to steal hundreds of items, on the other hand, is also prosecuted under the category of petty theft. ORC leaders who enlist others to steal large quantities of items, then sell them in any number of ways, are treated just like the child who walks out of a store with a candy bar in his pocket. With lenient laws on the books, it is no wonder that Organized Retail Crime is on the rise. This holiday season prevention professionals are bracing for an increase in ORC, as we enter the holiday season in which the economy continues to tumble toward a recession.
There is good news on the horizon. Retailers, loss prevention experts, law enforcement officers, prosecutors and legislators are working together to enact tougher legislation to deter Organized Retail Crime. Just last month, Universal Surveillance Systems (USS Corp.), hosted our first Northern California Organized Retail Crime conference. Experts in loss prevention from retailers such as Target, Circuit City, Walgreens, JC Penney, Ross and other fine stores met with representatives of local law enforcement agencies, as well as government officials to share tactics designed to combat ORC. California State Senator Leland Yee (D-San Francisco / San Mateo) was the keynote speaker at the event and was there to also discuss Organized Retail Crime legislation strategies with those on "the frontline." Senator Yee has been a constant supporter of tougher ORC crime and will be trying to pass through such legislation in early 2009.
USS will be partnering with retailers to host future Organized Retail Crime conferences in other California regions that we expect will continue to be attended by local loss prevention experts, law enforcement, district attorneys and legislators. Premeditated, large-scale ORC crimes not only impacts retailers' bottom lines, it also seriously damages local, state, national and world economies. From a human standpoint, all participants at the Northern California Retail Crime Conference noted that ORC also compromises the safety and security of customers and employees, as perpetrators of Organized Retail Crime also tend to be involved with more serious crimes. Through education, legislation, and community partnerships we can stop the growing trend of Organized Retail Crime.
Published: Monday, November 17, 2008