RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — Businesses are losing close to $100 billion every year because of shoplifting, according to data from the National Retail Federation’s latest National Retail Security Survey.
That number is growing.
As retailers implement changes to deter thieves in North Carolina, it is slowing down how quickly shoppers can get in and out of a store.
“We’re dealing with a serious issue nationally with regards to shoplifting and retail crime,” said David Johnston, Vice President of Asset Protection and Retail Operations for the National Retail Federation.
In Apex, police say a group of four suspects made off with two shopping carts worth of laundry detergent. In a separate incident in Apex, police said a suspect stole large amounts of allergy medication.
Walgreens and CVS have begun locking up inventory at some of their locations in Raleigh.
“We’re looking at indicators that it’s not really for personal gain or consumption. It’s for financial gain and in many instances tied to organized enterprises that are doing this for profit,” said Johnston.
The rise in thefts is forcing retailers to lock down items like never before. At a Target in San Francisco, entire aisles have been put behind lock and key.
“Customers who walk into a location and and have to wait a long period of time for employee support, may not go back to that location. They may look at either shopping somewhere else or even shopping online.”
Rather than luxury goods, Johnston says thieves are now targeting things like health and beauty items, household cleaners, and medications.
“It’s more about what’s easily attainable, what’s easily sellable,” he said.
Johnston said criminals are becoming more aggressive in their thefts. That was the case in the Apex laundry detergent theft. Police said in that incident, an employee and customer were pushed and punched by the robbers.
The National Retail Federation is pushing their support of two identical bills in Congress they hope can help address rising retail thefts.
Supporters say the Combating Organized Retail Crime Act of 2023 establishes a coordinated multi-agency response and creates new tools to tackle evolving trends in organized retail theft.
The bill would establish a Organized Retail Crime Coordination Center under the Department of Homeland Security. The center would assist state and local law enforcement agencies with their investigations of organized retail crime groups. It would also establish a system to track and share information regarding organized retail crime.
“In order to curb this epidemic impact of shoplifting, it’s going to take a whole community approach. It’s not a retailer-only problem to solve. So, we have to look at it from the local and state community level,” said Johnston.