Thousands of security experts and business executives are descending on the Gaylor Texan Convention Center this week to discuss and prevent one of the costliest crimes in the U.S.
Shoplifting, or retail theft, cost $37 billion last year in the U.S. according to a report set to be released at the convention on Tuesday.
Professor Dick Hollinger, Ph.D., of the University of Florida, conducts the annual retail survey for the industry. While retail theft has been down the last few years it is back up. The survey shows retail theft up $4 billion from last year, which is its highest level since 2006.
“This is by far the largest property crime in America,” Hollinger said. “So, as I tell my students, if you want to study property crime go to the mall. (It’s like) bleeding to death by paper cuts, it’s kind of like that problem, this is a daily problem.”
The issue of retail theft has a big impact on retailers. Not only do they lose the product, but they also pay millions of dollars a year for personnel and technology to combat retail theft.
“Retailers are spending an enormous amount of money to deal with it,” said Joe Williams of the Texas Retailers Assoc. “I've got members now who have departments that only deal with and operate in organized retail crime.”
Those costs are unfortunately put on the consumer, although it’s hard to put a precise figure on it, Williams does estimate it.
“I would say between a penny and two cents per dollar you spend on retail,” Williams said.
“It’s like a tax, we don't want to pay it, but we do pay it,” Hollinger said.
And so business executives and security experts come from all over the country for the National Retail Federation’s 2011 Loss Prevention Convention and Expo, to see what is out there on the technology and to get on the same page when combating retail theft and organized retail crime.
“This is the only way we're going to battle organized retail crime is by sharing and networking,” Williams said.
The convention runs until Thursday.