Traditionally, crime spikes around the December holiday season. It’s time for that to stop. Crime always spikes when people have time off. Summer vacation, weekends, and holidays are notorious for this. As we enter the end of the year, organized retail crime becomes an even bigger part of that picture because giving gifts is a larger part of this season than others. With that comes more stress – and more opportunity.
In America – and around the world – people are worrying about how they will afford the holiday season. Celebrations, meals and gift-giving are part of different religious and non-religious traditions at this time of year, and they can all add up. For some, that pressure can cause them to turn to crime. Or it can simply be an opportunity for those who are already unscrupulous. And the opportunity is increased at this time of year. People are attending those celebrations, traveling to be with friends and family, shopping for gifts – or working overtime to make a little extra money to prepare. That leaves homes and cars unattended, and likely with more money and brand-new merchandise inside than usual.
Stores are also stocked far more than usual, making this a season when shoplifting and organized retail crime, coordinated gangs of thieves taking large amounts of goods for resale, increase as well. The Global Retail Theft Barometer found nearly half of all retail theft happens during the winter, 81% of which is during the holiday season. “The retailers are doing what they can to curb the issue, but the challenge is they can’t do it alone,” said David Johnston, the vice president of asset protection and retail operations for the National Retail Federation. “It is going to take law enforcement and judicial and legal measures to help curb this issue.”
Organized retail crime accounted for more than $112.1 billion in industry losses in 2022 according to a recent National Retail Federation report, a sharp increase from $93.9 billion in 2021. This gets passed on to honest consumers through higher prices, but it also affects us as more and more items are locked away in stores or stores are forced to close entirely due to lost inventory. That’s why it’s so important, as Johnston said, for communities to work together with law enforcement and lawmakers to solve this issue.
Lawmakers have proposed the Combating Organized Retail Crime Act of 2023, which is a great step in the right direction. If passed, it would allow organized retail crime to be addressed more seriously at a national level and fix the current lack of inter-agency coordination. By empowering those who can help the most to take action, the bill would also reduce the burden on businesses and employers as well as the cost to consumers and families. Most importantly, it will help stop those at the top who are organizing these thefts, which is the only way to stop it for good.
Organized retail crime is not like conventional shoplifting and needs to be treated differently. This legislation would help to give American shoppers a safer experience – and ease their budgets.