According to authorities, 18 people were arrested in Los Angeles when police uncovered an organized criminal network that targeted clothes and shoe retailers. This is the retail theft ‘epidemic’ spreading across the US.
A growing number of current and former CEOs have expressed concerns about an upsurge in retail thefts across the United States, which might lead to higher prices and the closure of stores.
“Today, this thing is an epidemic. It’s spreading faster than COVID,” former Home Depot CEO Bob Nardelli told Fox News on Dec. 8. “The degree of severity now, it’s not just theft, it’s smash and grab. There’s an entitlement out there that if you have it, you’ve worked hard to earn it, I want it. I’m just going to take it.”
An 83-year-old Home Depot employee was killed last week after being shoved by a thief at a North Carolina facility, according to officials. The worker, Gary Rasor, tried to confront a suspect who was fleeing with three power washers before being shoved to the ground; he eventually died as a result of complications from his injuries.
On December 6, Walmart CEO Doug McMillon indicated during an interview with CNBC that retail theft is “higher than what it has historically been” and that it will lead to significant issues in some locations.
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“If that’s not corrected over time, prices will be higher, and/or stores will close,” McMillon said.
“I think local law enforcement being staffed and being a good partner is part of that equation, and that’s normally how we approach it.”
He made no mention of which sites would be shut down because of theft events.
The National Retail Federation reported in September that shrink, which includes retail theft and other inventory loss, has reached $94.5 billion by 2021. Meanwhile, statistics suggest that the number of retail theft occurrences rose by nearly 26% last year.
“Violence is an increasingly important concern among retailers,” including shootings and assault, the report reads. “As has been detailed throughout this report, external theft and [organized retail crime] in particular, is a significant and growing area of concern for retailers.”
Target’s Chief Financial Officer, Michael Fiddelke, stated on an investor call: “This is an industry-wide problem that is often driven by criminal networks, and we are collaborating with multiple stakeholders to find industry-wide solutions.”
The amount Target has shrunk over the past year, “has already reduced our gross margin by more than $400 million versus last year, and we expect to reduce our gross margin by more than $600 million for the full year,” he said.
Shoplifting has, according to Fiddelke, escalated by roughly 50% since last year. According to him, rather than lone shoplifters, organized retail theft is to blame for the majority of those theft cases.
According to the US Chamber of Commerce, organized looting and retail crime gangs have produced shortages in the retail business amid supply chain issues and years of COVID-19-related disruptions.
“Retail theft is becoming a national crisis, hurting businesses in every state and the communities they serve. We call on policymakers to tackle this problem head-on before it gets further out of control. No store should have to close because of theft,” the organization stated. “These crimes are not victimless.
“In addition to the growing number of thefts that turn violent, innocent consumers, employees, local communities, and business owners and shareholders bear the costs of rising retail theft. Twenty-five percent of small businesses report raising prices as a result of shoplifting. Some retailers have been forced to shutter locations in response to rampant theft.”
Notably, drugstore Walgreens has closed many sites in San Francisco due to an increase in thefts and stealing blamed on rules enacted by District Attorney Chesa Boudin, who was recalled earlier this year.
According to authorities, 18 people were arrested in Los Angeles when police uncovered an organized criminal network that targeted clothes and shoe retailers.
According to the Los Angeles Police Department, the suspects ranged in age from 15 to 20 and were related to retail thefts at chain businesses on December 1 and 2, totaling around $23,000 in merchandise. They were likely engaged in at least 14 previous crimes involving stolen goods worth $90,000, police said on December 3.
The authorities did not name the suspects or the stores that were targeted. According to the Los Angeles Times, the stolen merchandise was found and returned to the stores. The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department was involved in the investigation.