Small, loosely connected gangs illustrate the challenge of stopping organized retail theft
This isn’t exactly the stuff that makes it into Organized Crime Drama Plots such as The Sopranos from HBO.
In the Retail Space, crime does not draw the same attention and glitz as has been popularized in the HBO hit series. Some Retailers, like Target, have made some improvements to security:
Target’s success at holding the line on retail crime comes from the way it organizes itself. Its cuts have been strategic, not wholesale. The store also has a four-pronged approach in place to battle organized theft:
1. Diverse hiring in the security department. Target doesn’t just hire from law enforcement. Brekke himself is a lawyer who spent a number of years at the Federal Bureau of Investigation before coming to Target in 1997. Target has an internal forensics lab for lifting fingerprints, and it also hires people with experience in information systems, finance and analytics so it can look for patterns that help it predict where thieves might strike next.
2. Intergroup cooperation. Target collaborates through vehicles like LERPnet (Law Enforcement Retail Partnership and Network), an information-sharing network between big retailers and law enforcement; and the National Cyber-Forensics and Training Alliance, a government and industry collaboration for fighting cybercrime.
3. Technology. Target now uses IP-based camera systems that allow for remote surveillance of its stores.
4. Partnerships. Besides national information-sharing efforts like LERPnet, Target works to form alliances with various law enforcement officials and with other retailers.
In one recent case, Target helped snare a four-person ring committing refund fraud. Refund fraud happens when people buy something, remove it from its box, put something of similar weight into the box, reseal it, return it, then sell the original item on an Internet auction site like eBay.
Technology’s role in this has two sides. One being quite murky in the sense that tech sites like eBay are being used by scoundrels to move their ill-gotten gains. Technology has also played a role in defending and assisting law-enforcement in tracking down suspects and locating the “loot”
Technology giveth, technology taketh away. Internet auction sites are an important tool for thieves. They can sell goods to wider audiences than those of flea markets.
Collaboration is the key as is suggested by the article. Nonetheless, this sector of crime is in the Billions of dollars.