The dirty laundry on Tide thefts and organized retail crime

5 Comments | This entry was posted in Loss Prevention

On Monday, a front page story in The Daily called out the soaring Tide detergent theft problem across the country. The story went viral today with local and national media groups discussing Tide specifically and touching on the broader issue of organized retail crime.

Organized retail crime affects virtually every retailer in America, costing the industry tens of billions of dollars each year and a majority of companies reporting the problem is getting worse, not better. It impacts everything from the bottom line to the safety of people in the stores. As criminals become more brazen, retailers are working fervently to cut down on organized retail crime activity in order to ensure the safety of their associates and shoppers.

In NRF’s 2011 Organized Retail Crime Survey, Tide was not listed specifically on the NRF’s list of top items targeted by organized retail crime groups, however it does fit the profile and some organized retail crime cases were publicized in the local coverage today. Last year, I discussed what retailers are doing on the legislative front to combat this multi-billion dollar problem on CNBC’s Squawk on the Street.

Criminals are keen on obtaining the hottest-selling merchandise because of its high resale value. Trends retailers have identified in top-fenced merchandise include the desire for all branded merchandise, particularly exclusive licensed goods. Consumable products such as over-the-counter medications, infant formula, high-end technology devices and designer denim are some of the top targeted items to be fenced. Retailers are constantly experimenting with ways to protect targeted items. Many stores reposition products where employees can keep a watchful eye on them, others limit quantities on display, while several use special locking devices such as secure caps and a few are locking them up.

As retailers continue to build their defenses against the growing problem of organized retail crime, criminals are finding myriad ways to work around the system. Over the past five years, many Loss Prevention experts have adjusted their tactics to prevent, detect and investigate these costly crimes by working with industry groups, stepping up legislative efforts and partnering with law enforcement. This is not a problem easily solved by working alone and demand collaborative solutions. Industry leaders at NRF’s 2012 Loss Prevention Conference and Expo will discuss the over-arching trends of asset protection and share strategies for retailers to prepare and respond to any organized retail crime situation.

Whether it’s Tide, designer jeans, electronic games or vacuum cleaners, the dirty laundry on these criminal groups will come out in the wash eventually. To see progress that’s been made, check out CNBC’s Crime Inc: Stolen Goods for exclusive interviews with retailers and law enforcement, as well as footage of organized retail crime raids and cases.

Posted in: Loss Prevention and tagged , ,


  1. avatar Terry
    Posted March 15, 2012 at 1:18 pm | Permalink

    With all due respect, this is all sizzle and no steak. There are a lot of words but nothing is said. Yes, we know what the problem is. And OK, it’s encouraging to know retailers are doing something about it? Or are they? There is no news as to exactly what the strategy is. For those of us who play by the rules, i.e., we don’t steal and we don’t buy stolen goods, the prices we pay are no doubt inflated to offset the retailers’ losses. So don’t just tell us they are doing something. Tells us what the heck they are doing about it!

  2. Posted March 15, 2012 at 6:51 pm | Permalink

    First of all, knowledge is power. Of course most know that there is an issue but many retailers do not realize that they too are at risk and thus do not take proper action to protect their hard goods and also system security. It’s an ongoing process of education, raising awareness and of course action.

    I view this article as an effort to bring more attention to the issue to further educate and prepare retailers. It is a very true statement that as the defense builds so will the ingenuity of the attackers. Much like driving in Los Angeles, one needs to take the offensive as opposed to the defensive. Keep moving forward, keep your eyes and ears open and predict what others around you are doing even before they know.

    Thank you.

  3. avatar Joe LaRocca, Senior Asset Protection Advisor
    Posted March 16, 2012 at 8:53 am | Permalink

    Terry, thank you for the comments and you’re absolutely right, organized retail crime is a costly problem to stores, state government and you as a consumer.

    The industry takes a comprehensive approach towards prevention, detection and investigations. Many use the latest technology to combat the problem, including security tags, cameras and alarms; engage in training and awareness programs to identify and understand the economic effect of organized retail crime to their company; actively participate in public-private sector partnerships, to facilitate information sharing with law enforcement on large, multi-jurisdictional crimes; and work through groups such as the National Retail Federation to communicate through the media about the industry issues.

    Retailers have spent years lobbying Congress about the need for organized retail crime legislation. Specifically we want stiffer penalties for criminals involved with organized retail crimes, expanding law enforcement’s ability to charge and prosecute offenders and decreasing the felony dollar amount threshold at which criminals are charged. Several states have engaged the issue through state legislation and many have already seen success.

    Together, retailers and law enforcement officials are making great strides in uncovering the criminal enterprises that exist throughout the country. These collaborations have resulted in many successful federal indictments and the breakup of large crime rings, which operated for years behind physical and online fence operations.

    You can help too. Contact your Senator or member of Congress and ask for tougher laws on retail crime. Encourage your local law enforcement agency to get involved and stay engaged in fighting retail crime. And if you see something suspicious in a store or mall, say something to the manager, mall security or police department.

    Thanks again for your comment and have a nice weekend.

  4. Posted April 2, 2012 at 8:50 am | Permalink

    will it ever get to the point where tracking devices are placed on every item in the store to keep product from walking out the door?

  5. avatar Christopher M.
    Posted April 4, 2012 at 3:12 pm | Permalink

    Terry – Understand your point, but if I was a reasonably smart retail thief, i.e. shoplifter, I would love articles that explain what LP is doing to prevent me from stealing, so I could surf the internet and craft my countermeasures from the comfort of my armchair.
    I look at this article as more of a general awareness piece, as Amy said. There are other articles online that you can easily look up that will explain why Tide, for example, is a hot commodity for retail theft/resell, even down to the particular version of Tide.

    chad s – I think the RFID craze of a decade ago might be what you’re thinking? While the bigger retailers use it for inventory purposes, and there are the obviously devices out there to try and stop you from stealing razor blades and clothes, for example, there’s a number of flaws from security devices of nearly any type.
    1) They need to be used uniformly across all merchandise. 2) The staff in the stores have to PAY ATTENTION to the alarms that go off; how many times have you been in a store when the sensors at the door go off and no one comes to check them out, or the customer just keeps on walking (esp. if they’ve legitimately bought the merch.), or they go off because of something you bought in another store that wasn’t deactivated properly – if the human element isn’t engaged with the LP equipment, it isn’t going to work. 3) How easy is it to defeat asset tags? If you use some ingenuity, you can figure out how no matter where they’re placed, and more often than not they’re a hinderance to the legit customer who pays for things, and they wind up damaging product by where they’re placed.

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