LAS VEGAS — Organized retail crime has mushroomed into a $15 billion per year problem for the grocery and drugstore industries, according to presentations given here last week during the “Organized Retail Crime — Issues and Opportunities” session at the 2008 Food Marketing Institute Show. Presenters John Griffin, mid-Atlantic investigations team leader for Target, and Bob James, corporate investigator and ORC coordinator for Safeway, encouraged retailers to use a combination of tactics, ranging from installing new closed circuit television equipment at store level, to collaborating with law enforcement and other retailers in their region to help bust large rings of thieves operating together. “During the past eight to 10 years [organized retail crime] has gone from a minor problem to a major problem, and it all has to do with the Internet,” said Griffin. Organized shoplifters were once forced to fence stolen goods through local pawn shops and flea markets, but now, online auction sites give them access to a national market where they can sell large quantities of merchandise anonymously.
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