Report: Theft Cost Retailers $37B+ in 2010

BOCA RATON, Fla. — A new study reveals that retailers lost more than $37 billion to theft in 2010, an increase of nearly $4 billion compared to the previous year. Retail theft includes shoplifting, employee theft, administrative error and vendor fraud.

The data comes from the latest National Retail Security Survey (NRSS) preliminary results. The University of Florida (UF) conducts the annual survey, which is funded by a grant from ADT Commercial.

The increase is possibly due to the prevalence of organized retail crime (ORC), says UF criminologist Richard Hollinger, Ph.D., who directed the survey. “The National Retail Federation [NRF] just completed its own survey showing an increase in ORC activities,” he says. “More than 95 percent of retailers said they had been victims. Almost 85 percent indicated that the problem had gotten worse over the last three years.”

Similar to previous years, employee theft played a major role to the increase. Businesses lost $16.2 billion in employee theft or more than 43 percent of the total. Shoplifting and ORC closely followed with a loss of $12.1 billion or 33 percent of the total losses.

To help combat retail theft, ADT Commercial Vice President of National Accounts for Retail Michael Creedon offers a few technology tips that should help retailers detect or limit ORC activity. “There are a lot of sophisticated video and software products available that can help detect ORC behaviors and alert store management,” he says.

One solution that can help retailers is a video analytics, which can pick up unusual behavior such as a large amount of over-the-counter medication bottles disappearing into the coat of a shoplifter. The system can also follow a suspected shoplifter throughout the store recording movements and alerting store management.

High definition and megapixel cameras can also help retailers capture quality images of suspects. Vendors can match up those images with law enforcement photos. Additionally, the use of cloud computing can help end users store video, while having the option to remotely access the data from any location.

Radio frequency identification (RFID) tags are also becoming popular with retailers. The technology helps sort out whether vendor fraud, administrative error, employee theft or shoplifting is the cause for losses.

“Shoplifting and retail theft affect all of us,” says Creedon. “We want to make it as easy as possible for retailers to use the available tools in an effective and cost efficient way.”

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