Home Depot turns off thieves’ power to use or sell stolen tools
Home Depot has come up with a creative, tech-savvy way to thwart organized criminals from stealing tools off of their shelves.
The home improvement chain has begun stocking power tools that will not function without first being activated via Bluetooth at checkout, according to Business Insider. The tactic will allow Home Depot to continue selling the products without locking them behind cases and negatively impacting the legitimate shopping experience.
The move is meant to specifically target retail theft rings. Such organized rings often recruit homeless people and others living in precarity to steal products from stores, which are then sold online. These operations work at such a scale that they amount to “shadow businesses” that feed supply chains of stolen goods. Home Depot does not foresee criminals attempting to defeat the activation technology, expecting rather that they will move on to something easier to steal.
Home improvement is not the only sector of retail where organized theft has become a massive problem.
The National Retail Federation (NRF)’s “Organized Retail Crime Survey 2020” ranks designer clothes as the most frequently targeted product for organized retail theft at 34 percent. Other frequently stolen products are laundry detergent (21 percent), razors (20 percent), designer handbags (16 percent), deodorant (15 percent) and laptops, pain relievers and high-end liquor at 13 percent.
Stores in specific regions have experienced pronounced upticks in organized retail theft. This year in San Francisco, Walgreens stores were being targeted by criminal enterprises at a rate four times that of stores elsewhere. Theft has prompted Walgreens to close 17 stores in recent years.
Other retailers have identified San Francisco as a problem area as well and have taken unprecedented measures.
Target, for instance, has begun closing stores in San Francisco early in order to prevent late-night shoplifting, ABC 7 reported. One 7-Eleven in the area installed a metal door through which it conducts business. Customers interested in purchasing something at the location must hit a buzzer to signal that they are there to employees.
Crime rings also put employees at risk, with thieves potentially attacking those who attempt to stop them.
- Home Depot plans to foil shoplifters with power tools that won’t work if they’re stolen – Business Insider
- 2020 Organized Retail Crime Survey – National Retail Federation
- Organized theft is turning San Francisco into retail’s Wild West – RetailWire
- Target, Walgreens make drastic changes due to increase in San Francisco thefts – ABC 7
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Do you see in-store activation at the point of checkout as being a good way to thwart organized theft rings? Would implementation of the technology being used by Home Depot be feasible in products besides power tools?