WASHINGTON (SBG)— From nationwide chains to mom-and-pop shops, retailers have been up against a wave of thefts building for years and has proven difficult to fix.
According to the 2021 National Retail Federation Security Survey, 57% of retailers reported a rise in organized retail crime. According to NRF, organized retail crime costs retailers an average of $700,000 per $1 billion in sales.
“Think about a hurricane and how it forms out in the ocean," NRF vice president of government relations and political affairs Jason Straczewski said. “There’s been a confluence of factors that have been occurring over the past several years that have unfortunately led us to what we’re seeing today.”
Straczewski said bail reform and changes to felony theft thresholds helped send signals that non-violent crime would not receive the same kind of attention from authorities as violent crime.
And then you had the pandemic come along and that changed a lot of things for a lot of people. It disrupted people’s lives. It disrupted people’s livelihoods," Straczewski said.
Since thieves often sell the items they steal, retail groups like NRF have been urging Congress to pass the INFORM Consumers Act, which would require online marketplaces to verify high volume third-party sellers' information and make that information available to customers. Versions of the bill were introduced in the House and Senate last year but haven't gone anywhere since.
Straczewski said passage of the bill would be a "key part of the puzzle" but more needs to be done.
"We need coordinated support. We need federal law enforcement agencies to help share intel and share resources on some of these gangs that are being tracked across state lines," Straczewski said.
On a local level, Straczewski pointed to what was done in California after a series of smash-and-grab thefts.
“You’ve seen quickly how elected leadership there reallocated resources, they’ve taken funding from the American Rescue Plan and shifted it toward community policing and proving support to district attorneys to make sure that they can help retailers with their investigations and go after these organized criminal gangs," Straczewski said.