What Is Organized Retail Theft? 6 Grocery Store Tips

Thieves have been stealing since the dawn of time — but it’s how they’re stealing that’s constantly changing.

In recent years, organized retail theft (ORT) has become a major issue. Unlike shoplifting, ORT involves an individual or group of people working together to target multiple stores in a coordinated manner — and it’s a huge problem for grocery stores.

Let’s dive into what organized retail theft is, why it's so harmful to businesses, and how grocery store owners can combat it using key tools and strategies.

Understanding Organized Retail Theft

Organized retail theft is an illegal activity where groups of individuals, or even entire criminal organizations, conspire to steal merchandise from retail establishments. Unlike individual shoplifters who may occasionally take an item or two, ORT rings work in coordinated efforts to target and steal large quantities of goods worth thousands — or even millions — of dollars.

Organized retail theft rings are usually well-structured, with various roles assigned to different members. There may be individuals in charge of research and reconnaissance, logistics, theft execution, and even merchandise reselling. The organized nature of ORT, and the involvement of multiple criminals working together, make it extremely difficult for store owners to tackle.

Why Grocery Stores Are Prime Targets for ORT

So, how does this affect the grocery industry? Grocery stores are hotspots for ORT due to several factors:

  1. High consumer demand: Essential consumer goods are always in high demand, meaning their resale value on the black market remains consistently high.
  2. Accessibility to items: Grocery stores often have open shelves, which makes it easier for ORT members to steal items.
  3. Perishable goods: Many grocery store items are perishable. ORT rings know that store owners need to keep perishable goods on rotation to minimize losses due to spoilage. This gives the thieves a sense of urgency in their operations and a higher incentive to find ways to sell their stolen items faster.

6 Grocery Store Tips To Combat Organized Retail Theft

Now that you understand what organized retail theft is — and why it's so detrimental to grocery stores — let's explore some tips for tackling the issue.

1. Invest in a Robust POS System

To combat organized retail theft, you need a point of sale (POS) system with advanced security features. Remember to look for a system with customizable touchscreens, too — this will help you streamline operations and speed up the checkout process, so you can minimize opportunities for ORT members to take advantage of distractions or bottlenecks.

2. Implement Real-Time Inventory Management

Implement an inventory management system that provides real-time data, so you can track your inventory levels accurately. This allows you to quickly identify any discrepancies and theft-related red flags. Reorder alerts and barcode scanners also help you maintain accurate inventory, making it difficult for thieves to exploit gaps in your inventory tracking.

3. Employ Multi-Layered Loss Prevention Measures

Use a combination of security measures, such as video surveillance cameras and store security personnel — this can greatly deter ORT members from targeting your store.

4. Use Technology to Your Advantage

Embrace technology to bolster your defenses against ORT. For example, integrate your POS system with security solutions that include loss prevention features, like real-time dashboard notifications that inform store owners or managers of any suspicious activities. This can alert staff, so they can intervene and stop theft attempts immediately.

5. Train Your Staff To Recognize ORT Indicators

Educate your employees on the signs of ORT, such as individuals working together in a coordinated manner or suspiciously lingering near items they're not purchasing. Train them to look for patterns and report any concerns to store management or security staff.

6. Collaborate With Local Law Enforcement and Other Businesses

Work closely with local law enforcement to share information about suspected ORT activities and stay up to date on the latest crime trends. Consider collaborating with nearby businesses to create a neighborhood watch group where you exchange valuable information, tips, and leads on organized retail theft incidents in the area.

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Tackle Organized Retail Theft With IT Retail

Organized retail theft can result in considerable financial losses for grocery store owners — but by understanding the problem and implementing key strategies, grocery stores can effectively tackle the issue and protect their businesses.

To get started with a robust grocery POS system that can help you implement these strategies, schedule a demo with one of our IT Retail specialists today! Or use our build and price tool to create your custom quote.