Officials gather to respond to growing concerns over organized retail crime


NEWARK , Calif. More than 200 law enforcement, government officials and retail loss prevention professionals gathered here last week for the Northern California Organized Retail Crime Conference to tackle critical issues like organized retail crime, as well as provide a forum for concerned professionals to come together to support each other and discuss proposed legislation to combat the existing and ever-growing threat of ORC.

At the top of the attendees’ varied list of concerns was ORC’s impact on consumers during a turbulent economy. “We learned today that approximately 25 million workers, or 1 in 5 people, in our nation’s work force is related to the retail economy,” stated Dan Reynolds, vice president of sales for USS Corp., which hosted the event. “One aspect of this issue that consumers do not fully understand is that the cost of stolen items or the financial loss to retailers is not the only loss. When criminals steal in large quantities, which is the reality of organized retail crime, we lose sales tax dollars that could be used for law enforcement, schools, parks and roads,” he said.

In 2007, total dollars lost in California due to evaporated sales tax dollars was estimated to be $242 million.

The keynote speaker was California Sen. Leland Yee, D-San Francisco, who has promised to re-introduce legislation that would impose more stringent penalties on those convicted of ORC theft. “This is a lot more serious than just shoplifting because of the organization and sophistication,” he said.

“Our legislative efforts need to start by redefining ORC as more than mere shoplifting,” Reynolds said. “Given the fact that we are in a harsh economy and that paychecks are smaller and smaller, we need to work with the legislature to protect our citizens.”

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