Los Angeles Leads Nation in Organized Retail Theft for 5th Straight Year

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Los Angeles Leads Nation in Organized Retail Theft for 5th Straight Year

People steal merchandise from stores at The Grove shopping mall in the Fairfax District of Los Angeles on May 30, 2020. (Valerie/AFP via Getty Images)

Travis Gillmore

Travis Gillmore

10/27/2023

Updated: 12/30/2023

While Los Angeles is known for designer boutiques and world-class shopping destinations, not everyone enters luxury retailers with the intention of paying, as the city topped the charts for organized criminal retail thefts again in a recently released survey.
The City of Angels has led the nation in such crimes since 2017—when it overtook New York, the National Retail Federation’s 2023 Retail Security Survey revealed.
San Francisco placed second and Sacramento placed seventh in this year’s report analyzing incidents from 2022.
“Retailers are seeing unprecedented levels of theft coupled with rampant crime in their stores, and the situation is only becoming more dire,” David Johnston, the group’s vice president of asset protection and retail operations, said in the report. “Far beyond the financial impact of these crimes, the violence and concerns over safety continue to be the priority for all retailers, regardless of size or category.”
The survey questioned 177 retail brands with nearly 100,000 brick-and-mortar locations nationwide, accounting for approximately $1.6 trillion in sales in 2022.
Companies represented dozens of sectors, including apparel, grocery and supermarket, jewelry, and department stores.
Shrinkage—the amount of inventory lost to theft—increased by 1.6 percent from 2021 to 2022, accounting for $18.2 billion in losses, according to the report.
This affects retailers’ ability to be profitable, and some are working to protect employees from violent shoplifting by closing stores earlier, which adds to the cost of doing business, according to experts.
Given the oversized role that retail plays in the U.S. economy as the largest private-sector employer—providing 1 in 4 jobs nationwide, employing 52 million people, and contributing nearly $4 trillion to the economy—some say that more needs to be done to protect the industry and business owners from growing retail theft issues.
Violent and dangerous thefts are becoming more common. Documented violent encounters increased by 35 percent in the past year, and 88 percent of retailers responding nationwide said shoplifters were more aggressive than in the prior year, according to the survey.
For the second year in a row, organized retail theft crimes were reported as significantly affecting businesses through violent smash-and-grab-style robberies involving groups overwhelming stores and leaving with large amounts of merchandise.
Such organized criminal activity is typically part of a network of co-conspirators working to sell stolen items online and on the streets at reduced prices, according to the report.
“Over recent years, we have seen that targeted goods have expanded, where the focus may not entirely be based on price point,” the survey report reads. “Goods can range from high-price, high-fashion items to everyday product needs that have a fast resale capability.”
Police are aware of the tactics and have recovered thousands of items this year in Los Angeles.
Repeat offenses are climbing, with 70 percent of retailers stating that the same individuals are targeting their stores, and 53 percent of those responding saying that violent encounters have increased because of repeat offenders, according to the survey.
Further contributing to the problem is the rise of juvenile shoplifting—with incidents and violence both climbing, survey respondents said.
Travis Gillmore

Travis Gillmore

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Travis Gillmore is an avid reader and journalism connoisseur based in California covering finance, politics, the State Capitol, and breaking news for The Epoch Times.

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