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Big retailers face big thefts

BY Dan Berthiaume

Shoplifters and dishonest employees are attempting to get away with more money in fewer attempted crimes.

According to results of the 31st annual retail theft survey from loss prevention consulting firm Jack L. Hayes International, over 279,000 shoplifters and dishonest employees were apprehended in 2018 by 20 large retailers who recovered over $114 million.

Theft case values soared in 2018, with the average shoplifting case value ($301.97) increasing 12% from 2017. The average dishonest employee case value ($1,361.37) shot up by 30%, and the total average theft case value ($408.77) rose 17%. However, total apprehensions of shoplifters and dishonest employees fell 12%.

Interestingly, while the amount of total recovered dollars rose 3% from the prior year, the recovery total from apprehended shoplifters (over $75 million) fell 1%. A 13.5% increase in employee recovery dollars (over $38 million) fueled overall growth in this statistic.

Fifty-five percent of survey participants reported an increase in shrink in 2018, with 35% reporting a decrease in shrink, and 10% saying shrink stayed about the same.

The recent National Retail Security Survey from the NRF and University of Florida shows that theft, fraud and losses from other retail shrink across the industry totaled $50.6 billion in 2018, up 8% from $46.8 billion the year before. The average employee theft incident produced $1,264.10 in losses (up from $1,203.16), and the average shoplifting/organized retail crime (ORC) incident cost $546.67 (up from $543.28).

NRF analysis indicates shrink but has held steady around 1.4% over the past few years, with the increase in dollar amount due primarily to growth in retail sales.

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