Morning Security Brief: Organized Retail Crime, Explosives Detection, Transportation Screening, and More

Sherry Harowitz

► The National Retail Federation reports in NRF’s ninth annual Organized Retail Crime (ORC) Survey “that 93.5 percent of retailers say they have been a victim of organized retail crime in the past year, down slightly from 96.0 percent in 2012.” The NRF goes on to report that “Equally disturbing: eight in 10 (81.3%) believe that ORC activity in general in the United States has increased over the past three years.” Also, this was the first year in which “NRF asked the senior loss prevention executives surveyed about their experience with store credit merchandise/gift card fraud, and the results are troubling: when asked specifically if they’ve experienced boosters who return stolen merchandise without a receipt for the sole purpose of receiving store credit via a gift card, who then turn around and sell that merchandise credit for cash to secondary markets that include kiosks, pawn shops and check cashing stores, 77.8 percent said they have experienced this.” 

► A team of Cornell University chemists have created a synthetic substance (a new type of polymer) that can detect a key ingredient in improvised explosive devices (IEDs). It might lead to new low-cost and effective hand-held explosives detection devices, reports the Homeland Security News wire. Also related to explosives detection, Popular Science has a piece that explains the science behind an explosive detection “sniffer” that a team at the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory announced they had successfully tested last fall to find certain explosives in ambient air for the first time.

► The Department of Homeland Security has released a redacted report of its “Civil Rights/Civil liberties Impact Assessment” (.pdf) pertaining to border searches of electronic devices, including laptops and mobile phones. It concludes that it is “inadvisable’ to establish constitutional safeguards protecting travelers’ electronics from being searched for any reason along the U.S. border," reports Wired’s Danger Room. And in another report--this one from the DHS Inspector General--the Transportation Security Administration is found wanting in its implementation of a behavioral screening program used at airports. “In a statement on Tuesday, the T.S.A. said it had accepted six recommendations from the report about its strategic planning,” reports the New York Times. 

► The Guardian U.K. reports that "the National Security Agency is currently collecting the telephone records of millions of US customers of Verizon, one of America's largest telecoms providers, under a top secret court order issued in April" and other similar reports have led many critics to take the NSA to task for its open-ended requests to see phone records, but one blogger takes a contrarian view.



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