Although it’s a crime that occurs in many countries, organized retail crime is generally associated with the U.S. These crimes are becoming more and more prevalent as an increasing number of thieves target various retail outlets to steal large amounts of goods from businesses at once in order to maximize their profits. ORC operations typically range from small-time thieves and street gangs to organized international criminal networks.

Organized retail crime (ORC) refers to two or more professional thieves involved in shoplifting from the retail environment. It can occur anywhere in the distribution channel, from manufacturing to retail stores or residential households. Organized retail crime is an ongoing challenge for retailers, with losses continuing to mount. These criminals frequently turn to online marketplaces to swiftly move mass quantities of stolen merchandise.

How does organized retail crime work?

Organized retail crime (ORC) is a type of theft or fraud that involves the coordination of groups or individuals to steal large quantities of merchandise from retail stores. These groups or individuals, also known as “ORC rings” or “boosters,” work together to plan and carry out the thefts, often using sophisticated methods and tools to evade detection. Here are a few examples of how ORC works:

  1. Shoplifting: ORC rings will often send multiple individuals into a store at the same time, each stealing as much merchandise as possible. These items are then sold on the black market or to other retailers for a profit.

  2. Return fraud: ORC rings will steal merchandise from a store and then return it for a refund, often using fake receipts or altered barcodes.

  3. Fraudulent purchasing: ORC rings will use false identities or stolen credit card information to purchase large quantities of merchandise, which they then resell on the black market.

  4. Cargo theft: ORC rings will steal large quantities of merchandise from delivery trucks or warehouses, often using insider information to target specific shipments.

  5. Online fraud: ORC rings will use stolen credit card information or other fraudulent methods to purchase merchandise online, which they then resell on the black market.

ORC rings will often use a variety of tools and techniques to evade detection, such as using RFID blockers to prevent security tags from triggering alarms, or using social media and messaging apps to coordinate their activities and share information about potential targets. ORC rings also have a high level of mobility, quickly moving from one location to another to avoid detection.

It’s important to note that ORC is a complex and multi-faceted problem that requires a collaborative effort from retailers, law enforcement, and the community to combat it.

Organized rings are often involved in other crimes within the community, including narcotics, money laundering, and human trafficking.

Organized retail crime costs retailers on average $700,000 every $1 billion of sales, and three-fourths of merchants saw an increase in ORC in 2020, according to NRF’s 2020 Organized Retail Crime Survey.

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