We've talked on these pages in recent days about shoplifting prevention best practices and what to do about criminals who hack store and credit card databases. What we haven't discussed much is ORC, which is defined by StopORC.org in this way: "Short for Organized Retail Crime. This refers to theft of retail products, generally from a retail establishment, by an organized, professional crime ring. A single person acting alone is not considered ORC. An ORC theft ring plans thefts of targeted items and develops channels to sell the stolen merchandise."
ORC costs the industry over $30 billion per year. Teams of thieves target high value merchandise that they can steal and resell. According to NRF's 9th annual survey on the subject, over 93 percent of retailers surveyed have been victims of ORC in the past year, which is actually down slightly from 2012.
During a recent StopORC webinar, Denny Dansak, the corporate manager of the ORC Division of Kroger, outlined the problem and possible solutions. According to Mr. Dansak, Kroger had 537 ORC cases in the past three and a half years, leading to 634 arrests and 489 convictions. Forty-five cases were withdrawn, generally due to the cooperation of the thieves, which led to the apprehension of other perpetrators. The average value of a case was a whopping $365,000.
Interestingly, Mr. Dansak said that one of the biggest problems with ORC is getting law enforcement authorities involved. Often, they view ORC as a shoplifting issue, which it is not, as 93 percent of the "boosters" in the Kroger cases were narcotics uses, and this is their "full time job."
Mr. Dansak said that law enforcement doesn't have enough time or manpower for these cases. Retailers need to provide assistance and educate authorities on the fact that ORC is a gateway crime which leads to other, even more serious criminal acts, such as narcotics, intellectual property (counterfeiting), weapons, and smuggling crimes. Ninety-one percent of Kroger ORC cases have led law enforcement to initiate other investigations and, in 86 percent of Kroger cases, narcotics are seized.
When retailers identify ORC rings, law enforcement can conduct reverse buys and execute search warrants. In almost all cases, defendants will plead guilty. Law enforcement benefits because they gain confidential informants who are eager to cooperate, property crime gets reduced as fencing operations are dismantled, and the assets from seizures benefit law enforcement operations.
Do you expect the ORC situation to become worse or better in the next three years?