Organized Retail Theft An Increasing Threat to Illinois Retailers

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce estimates the cost of Illinois retail theft at more than $4 billion per year. The initial figure of $2 billion, representing the value of the goods directly lost to theft, must be more than doubled to cover the ancillary costs of retail shrinkage. These include the higher operating costs required to pay workers to expose themselves to a high-crime environment, insurance costs related to high-theft environments, maintenance costs to operate video and other security systems, and many other related expenses.   

Rob Karr of the Illinois Retail Merchants Association (IRMA) agrees with observers who are seeing growing ‘flash mob’ retail theft activity.  Many Illinoisans are now familiar with video scenes of insta-gatherings which overwhelm a store.  Karr reports that IRMA’s investigation has found that many of these thefts are organized behind the scenes by criminal gangs.  The flash-mob theft not only overwhelms store personnel, but enables the gathering of a large quantity of desirable goods.  The goods can be shipped by fast freight to a faraway customer who does not ask too many questions.  International freight globalization is putting old-fashioned theft ‘fences’ into the shade.   IRMA’s Karr spoke to WTTW-TV on Monday, August 21.