You have reached your limit of free articles this month.

Enjoy unlimited access to SpringfieldNewsSun.com

Starting at just 99¢ for 8 weeks.

GREAT REASONS TO SUBSCRIBE TODAY!

  • IN-DEPTH REPORTING
  • INTERACTIVE STORYTELLING
  • NEW TOPICS & COVERAGE
  • ePAPER
X

You have read of premium articles.

Get unlimited access to all of our breaking news, in-depth coverage and interactive features. Starting at just 99c for 8 weeks.

X

Welcome to SpringfieldNewsSun.com

Your source for Clark and Champaign counties’ hometown news. All readers have free access to a limited number of stories every month.

If you are a News-Sun subscriber, please take a moment to login for unlimited access.

breaking news

Ohio man accused of trying to join ISIS in Syria

Organized retail theft costs billions

Thefts cost taxpayers, result in higher prices.


Organized retail crime cost stores an estimated $30 billion nationwide last year, an expensive trend that has businesses and law enforcement looking for ways to combat what one area task force leader called “an epidemic.”

The National Retail Federation’s 2013 survey found that 94 percent of retailers were victims of organized retail crime, which means they were targeted by individuals or groups seeking out certain items with an eye on reselling them for cash or drugs.

“This is not shoplifting,” said Dennis Dansak, head of Kroger’s organized retail crime division. “

It’s not a high school student going into a store stealing a pack of gum. We’re talking about $800 to $1,200 per theft episode.”

Dansak, who was hired in 2009, has a law enforcement background that includes a counterrorism stint with the FBI. At Kroger, he’s concerned with catching thieves determined to steal items such as laundry detergent, baby formula, energy drinks and razors. Kroger uses anti-theft labels with store codes that are hard to remove.

Department and clothing stores commonly lose electronics, high-end denim, handbags and cosmetics to thieves.

“What makes it so profitable is it’s a low-risk, high-reward business,” said Bob Bowman, who coordinates an area task force of law enforcement agencies known as Investigating Organized Retail Crime, or IROC. “The chance of getting caught is really about 1-in-150. They can make phenominal profit when there’s no overhead.”

Cost to taxpayers

The cost of retail crime to businesses is significant, but it also affects taxpayers. Bowman attended an ORC session last June in Columbus during which Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine tried to put the issue into perspective.

“He said the state of Ohio lost $30 million in 2012 of uncollected sales tax revenue directly associated with organized retail crime,” Bowman said.

Gift card/store credit fraud affected 78 percent of businesses, according to the National Retail Federation’s survey.

Warren County Prosecutor David Fornshell said thieves involved in identity theft oftentimes use that information to create phony credit cards and purchase gift cards, which they can sell.

“They go into stores and buy gift cards with the coded credit cards,” Fornshell said. “If you convert it to a gift card quickly, by the time someone realizes there is some type of illegal activity on their card, those purchases have already been converted to a gift card because it’s a lot more difficult to track down.”

Boosters, fences

Bowman, director of security at The Greene and police chief for Perry Twp. in Montgomery County, said many thieves work a circuit that includes Columbus, Dayton and Cincinnati. He explained how a “booster” works with a “fence” to affect a store’s bottom line.

“If I’m a fence and I send Billy out to shoplift and he comes back with $1,000 worth of merchandise, I might give him $200. Then I may turn around and have another associate take it back to the store, maybe the same store, and get a refund.

“I’ll give her $200 and I just made $600 by doing nothing but orchestrating the deal. Not only did they collect 100 percent of the retail value, they’re also going to collect sales tax, so my profit just went to as high as $670.”

Many stores do not require receipts for returned items, which makes it easier on thieves.

At grocery stores, thieves will use a “push-out” method, filling up a shopping cart and bolting for the parking lot.

“They’re there to steal large amounts of the same product, so they try to hide that product,” Dansak said. “They’ll throw an item over the top, and dog food is very bulky so we’ve seen them use dog food.

“If they have 37 cans of Similac (baby formula), that is a clue for someone looking at that buggy going out the door, so they’ll try to disguise it.”

Tide is a popular item among thieves because it is in demand. “They can trade a gallon of laundry detergent for a heroin capsule,” Bowman said.

Cargo thefts

Sgt. Tim Root oversees the Ohio State Highway Patrol’s vehicle theft and fraud unit. He said food shipments accounted for 25 percent of the 951 cargo thefts reported nationwide in 2012. Twenty-seven cases of cargo theft, such as on a truck shipment, were reported in Ohio.

Root said 85 percent of such thefts occur with unsecured shipments that are “primarily unattended.” He added that troopers are trained to look for inconsistencies in the stories of people they may suspect are committing crimes.

No matter the method of theft, they all hit consumers’ pocketbooks, said Fornshell.

“Stores have shrinkage (because of theft), meaning the difference what inventory says they’re supposed to have versus what they end up with when they conduct inventory. That results in higher prices for basically everything we purchase.”



Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Crime

Ohio man accused of trying to join ISIS in Syria
Ohio man accused of trying to join ISIS in Syria

An Ohio man is in federal custody, facing charges related to attempting to provide material support to terrorist group ISIS. FBI agents on the Joint Terrorism Task Force on Wednesday arrested Laith Waleed Alebbini, 26, at Cincinnati/Kentucky International Airport. Alebbini was on his way to Syria to join ISIS fighters, the FBI said. Authorities said...
National rabbit show being held this weekend in Springfield
National rabbit show being held this weekend in Springfield

A national rabbit show is being held this weekend in Springfield, bringing hundreds of out-of-state visitors to the area. The American Dutch Rabbit Club 2017 National Dutch Show is being held Friday through Saturday at the Clark County Fairgrounds. Between 35 and 40 states will be represented, organizer Kevin Hooper said. RELATED: Lake events at Clark...
Air Force calls on hackers to find cyber vulnerabilities for a bounty
Air Force calls on hackers to find cyber vulnerabilities for a bounty

The Air Force is looking for a few good hackers. A cyber competition will launch soon to urge computer hackers to find vulnerabilities in Air Force public websites, much as a Department of Defense contest dubbed “Hack the Pentagon” did last year. “We’d like to find out which vulnerabilities are out there that we have not yet...
SBDC plans move to downtown Springfield
SBDC plans move to downtown Springfield

Springfield’s Small Business Development Center will have a new home in downtown Springfield in early June. The SBDC, which provides free training and consulting for area business owners, will move to Clark State Community College’s downtown Brinkman Educational Center on June 1 under a new partnership between the two organizations. The...
Celebrate Astronomy Day this weekend
Celebrate Astronomy Day this weekend

This weekend is Astronomy Day it is celebrated twice a year around the world on April 29.  You can learn more about astronomy at Boonshoft Museum of Discovery. They have an event from noon until 4 p.m. where experienced astronomers will talk about the Sun, moon, and all the night sky has to hold.  Astronomy Day will also be celebrated on...
More Stories