National Retail Federation and eBay Join Forces to Thwart Organized Retail Crime

By Matthew Harwood

The National Retail Federation (NRF) and eBay Inc. announced today that they have joined forces to fight organized retail crime (ORC).

The largest retail trade association and the largest online marketplace say they will share information, leverage technology, collaborate with the FBI, and work on new legislation to thwart professional thieves. Both organizations believe this multi-tiered approach should make it harder for ORC gangs to victimize retailers by selling their stolen goods on eBay.

(Read about previous industry efforts to combat ORC in "Retailers Organize Against Crime," in the July 2007 issue of Security Management.)

“Through this partnership, NRF and eBay are putting criminals on notice that they will no longer be able to steal from retailers and abuse the online marketplace for profit,” said eBay's Paul Jones, global director of asset protection.

ORC isn't shoplifting, it's organized and sophisticated crime. The practice consists of professional criminal gangs stealing large volumes of merchandise from retailers which they then turn around and sell at pawnshops, flea markets, and online marketplaces, like eBay. The crime is pervasive and costly.

A 2009 NRF survey discovered that 92 percent of retailers had experienced ORC in the last year and nearly three-fourths of retailers said the practice had intensified. Overall, retail theft cost $115 billion in losses last year, according to the UK-based Center for Retail Research and Checkpoint Systems, reports Reuters. While general retail theft does include everyday shoplifting and employee theft, Reuters reports that ORC makes up a sizable amount of the overall "shrink." In June, the ASIS Foundation released a report on ORC that cited estimates that organized retail theft costs anywhere between $9 billion and $35 billion annually.

And the practice doesn't only harm retailers. It robs local and state governments of tax revenue and can also injure the health of consumers. Items popular with thieves include pharmaceuticals and baby formula which can harm, even kill, people if the goods haven't been stored properly or have been tampered with.

♦ Photo by Steven Arnold/WikiMediaCommons


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