Company Blog

95% of retailers hit by theft in 2011, study shows. Retailers looking to new technology

May 1, 2012

In 2011, 95% of retailers experienced some form of theft, driving retailers to look closely at new anti-theft technologies and practices, according a study by the National Retail Federation.  

Almost half of the 2011 loss was in the form of cargo theft--robbery or hijacking of goods en route to or from distribution centers.  The figure also includes shoplifting-- which is now occurring in an organized and massive way--returns scams, credit card fraud, bar code switching, and insider schemes, as well as in-store robbery and burglary.

But it is more than the number of crimes that have retailers concerned: the nature of retail theft has changed dramatically since the economic crisis of 2007-8.  Organized crime is much more systematically involved, violent crime is on an upswing, and the internet plays an ever-increasing role as an outlet to “fence” stolen goods.

Still, despite the increase in volume and violence in attacks, big strides have been made by retailers in working closely with law enforcement.   With senior executives tuned in to the problem, and new approaches such as problem-oriented-policing, retailers are adopting new tools that will aid police in tracking and convicting criminals—and deterring future crimes as a result.   

Those tools include effective new video systems, “lo-jack”-like tracking technology, and Applied DNA Sciences' smartDNA anti-intruder marking spray and evidence marking.   The high-tech smartDNA spray douses a fleeing offender with a long-lasting DNA-marked fluorescing dye.  As the crime is investigated, the fluorescing DNA mark assists police in linking the offender and stolen items to a specific crime scene.

More stolen goods are being recovered, due to better cooperation with law enforcement

Some NRF crime report highlights:

  • Top retail crime cities: Los Angeles, Miami, New York and Dallas.  Making the top-ten list for the first time are Las Vegas and Phoenix.
  • Nearly six in ten senior loss prevention executives say their senior management understands the severity of the problem, a big step up from the 39 percent reported in 2005.    
  • Companies are allocating more resources – including personnel and greater investment in technology – to combat the problem.
  • Among the top targets for theft: designer clothing, handbags, infant formula, over-the-counter drugs, the latest “i” devices, and gift cards.

An important trend for retailers: more goods are being recovered from physical and online fence locations, thanks to better cooperation with law enforcement  and new technologies.  This has made evidence marking more effective than ever in attaining convictions of the guilty, and therefore in deterring crime. 

Applied DNA Sciences' smartDNA evidence marking works to microscopically mark cash and high value items in a way that is extremely difficult to detect or remove, and that links the evidence directly to a crime scene.  DNA evidence marking from Applied DNA Sciences is used on over a quarter of all the cash being moved to and from banks in the United Kingdom, which suffers the highest rate of cash in transit crime in Europe.