BUSINESS + ECONOMY

Shoplifting won’t close a store, but organized retail crime can

Oct 26, 2023, 5:22 PM

Image of a shoplifter. A new trend of flash mob shoplifting is on the rise across the country. (Can...

A new trend of flash mob shoplifting is on the rise across the country. (Canva)

(Canva)

SALT LAKE CITY —  If shoplifting is one thief’s personal crime, then organized retail theft is a mob of thieves robbing a store with the intent of reselling the stolen goods. This is a type of crime that is happening more often, and is affecting much more than just the merchant.

Almost a year ago, four thieves in hoodies robbed an Apple store in Farmington, Utah. In less than a minute, police said the group fled with smartphones and laptops.

“It’s just brute force, grabbing things as fast as you can, stuffing them into their pockets. There’s no violence, nothing like that,” said Sgt. Brian Cooper of the Farmington Police Department.

And it’s big business.  According to the National Retail Federation, retail crime accounted for over $112 billion in losses in 2022 alone. Nearly 30% of retailers said this forced them to close a specific store location. Forty-five percent reduced their operating hours. And 30% of retails said retail crime has forced them to reduce or alter their in-store product selection.

Retail crime has become such a large concern that it has its own day — today — Oct. 26.

Expert on retail crime

Dave Studdert is the founding partner of Utah-based LiveView Technologies and a host of the podcast “Retail’s Most Wanted.”

He said organized retail theft uses so-called “boosters” who find gang members or drug dealers to steal store items. Then, a “receiver,” or “moving man” takes the stolen merchandise and repurposes it to be resold as “clean,” Studdert told KSL NewsRadio hosts, Dave and Dujanovic.

These retail thieves can avoid more serious penalties by stealing below a certain price level.

In Utah, theft of property or services valued between $1,500 and $5,000 is usually charged as a third-degree felony. Additionally, a third-degree felony charge may be issued if an offender has been convicted twice in the past 10 years of any actual or attempted theft, robbery, fraud, or burglary with intent to commit theft, according to Utah law firm Brown, Bradshaw and Moffat.

“Over the last year, about 80% of the retailers have reported an increase in aggressive and violent behavior associated with this uptick in criminal activity,” Studdert said.

He added retailers’ No. 1 concern is for their employees’ and shoppers’ safety. Although the theft at the retail outlet may not affect one citizen directly, the loss of tax revenue does affect a community in the form of road repair or hiring a first responder or teacher, he said.

“We’re seeing big retailers shut their stores down and that affects everybody,” he said. 

 

Dave & Dujanovic can be heard weekdays from 9 a.m. to noon. on KSL NewsRadio. Users can find the show on the KSL NewsRadio website and app, as well as Apple Podcasts and Google Play. 

We want to hear from you.

Have a story idea or tip? Send it to the KSL NewsRadio team here.

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Shoplifting won’t close a store, but organized retail crime can