Home Depot Finds the Tools to Uncover Organized Retail Theft

Each month, our Newsletter provide information to help you stay alert and stay safe.

Our October 2023 Newsletter is below.

Home Depot Finds the Tools to Uncover Organized Retail Theft

One of our recent LinkedIn posts has garnered a lot of attention, and we’d like to share some of its key points here with you.

Although it’s centered on Home Depot, it could apply to any major retailer in the country, such as Macy’s, Nordstrom, Target, or Walmart.  Additionally, this post is about a growing type of theft in America.

Here’s the scoop:

According to an article in The Wall Street Journal dated October 7, 2023, Home Depot has been collaborating with Florida law enforcement officials for several months to expose a criminal enterprise that has been stealing from their stores.

This can be a very challenging task – but they succeeded.  

Prosecutors revealed that the minister of a church in Florida that provides recovery programs had been directing individuals in these programs to steal tools from Home Depot. The minister specified which merchandise he wanted them to steal and then instructed them to bring the stolen items to his home.

This criminal activity is known as organized retail theft, usually involves a ringleader, in this case, the minister, with several others under their control.

The thieves received petty cash, money for buying drugs, or help with their basic living needs.

Meanwhile, the minister made an estimated $3 million by selling the stolen items on eBay. Now, he, his wife, his mother, and four others face racketeering charges, conspiracy to commit racketeering, and dealing in stolen property.

Let’s summarize what we have learned so far:

– Organized retail theft is becoming a widespread problem in the U.S. that is difficult to tackle.

– Anyone can be involved in organized retail theft: ministers, professional criminals, or the grandmother living next door.

– There is a lot of money to be made from organized retail theft. Some ringleaders sell the stolen goods online or to larger organizations engaged in the same activity.

The article in the Journal did address how retailers are trying to reduce this form of crime. However, it provided few details on the specific initiatives they can take.

To learn more about these, we spoke with Mike Keenan, a TAL Global Team Member, who has helped retailers reduce organized crime for years.

According to Mike, among the steps retailers should take as quickly as possible are the following:

1. Find a security consulting and risk management firm to work with. TAL Global is recognized as one of the leading firms to help retailers reduce organized crime.  But what is important is to find a firm to help you address this problem.

2. Install closed security cameras that cover the entire store. These cameras can help identify shoplifters as well as employees who might be stealing.

3. Use radiofrequency identification systems to assist in tracking stolen merchandise. These systems have become a necessity for retailers.

4. Train employees in identifying shoplifters, reminding them that today’s shoplifters often work in groups.

5. Conduct security and risk assessments. While these two types of assessment differ, they both have the same focus: finding risks and vulnerabilities and providing steps to eliminate them.

“What I tell our clients is that they must be proactive when it comes to preventing organized retail theft,” adds Mike.
“Retailers have long been reactive. They must take steps now to prevent these incidents from happening in the first place.”

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