Two Nike stores in Southern California were hit by shoplifters who stole an estimated $17,000 worth of merchandise, the Long Beach Post reported last week in the latest chapter of retail’s ongoing crime crisis.
Nike Outlet store employees believe the same three suspects hit their location twice on Oct. 9-10 as the suspects fled in a white Chevrolet Silverado each time. They stole more than $7,100 in merchandise.
On the evening of Oct. 18, six individuals entered the Nike store on Pacific Coast Highway and stole an estimated $10,000 worth of goods, the Long Beach Police Department said. Investigators have not made any arrests related to the crimes at either store.
Nike product is commonly targeted by thieves. Criminals stole about $4,100 worth of the brand’s gear last month. A FedEx driver was implicated in a $96,000 incident while Nike’s supply chain has also been hit by criminals.
Retail shrink has become a nearly $100 million problem in the U.S. since last year, according to the National Retail Federation (NRF). Its September retail crime report showed a 26 percent increase in organized retail crime. Over 72 percent of the loss prevention executives surveyed said that shoplifting incidents rose the pandemic.
The three California cities of San Francisco, Sacramento and Los Angeles are among the nation’s top 10 cities for organized retail crime, California Retailers Association data shows. A Dick’s Sporting Goods store in Roseville, Calif. was hit on Oct. 27. Four women were later arrested for the crime after fleeing by car, Fox 40 local news reported last week.
Police recovered over $3,000 in Nike apparel from the suspects’ getaway vehicle after employees called 911. Store staff said they recognized the women as suspects in a previous robbery of Dick’s Sacramento, Calif. location. The items were returned to the store, police said.
While the incident ended in arrest, such an outcome is statistically unlikely. Shoplifting is the country’s No. 1 property crime, and only between 5 percent and 10 percent of perpetrators are caught, according to the Department of Justice.
In Menomonee Falls, Wisc. where Kohl’s is headquartered, police are looking for a woman who allegedly stole about $4,000 in merchandise from the department store chain on Wednesday, according to Fox 6 local news. The suspect was captured on security footage wheeling a shopping cart full of sweats and outerwear into the parking lot. She drove off in dark-colored Hyundai Azera.
A series of theft occurred at a Dillard’s store in Canton, Ohio last month. On Oct. 19, a woman was arrested and charged with shoplifting $263 in clothing from the department store. Hours later, an Akron, Ohio man was arrested for stealing a similar amount of merchandise. The following day a man and a woman from Cleveland were arrested for stealing about $900 in combined merchandise. On Oct. 22, a man and woman from Canton, Ohio were arrested for stealing $814 worth of goods, while a Cleveland man who stole clothing valued at more than $1,300 was also taken into custody.
Though many shoplifts evade store staff, incidences of violent retail crime are on the rise. NRF’s data revealed an upward trend in violence against store associates, with 77 percent of businesses reporting an uptick in this behavior over the past five years. About 58 percent indicated that other threats, like mass violence or active assailants, have also risen in priority as security issues.
Baton Rouge, La. business owner Abby Bullock told a local outlet last week that she makes her presence known to shoppers who seem suspicious, folding clothing and straightening up her shop, Wanderlust by Abby, while keeping an eye on them. Last fall, she was physically assaulted by a perpetrator who attempted to leave the boutique without paying for $850 worth of goods.
At a nearby Carter’s store in August, a woman shoplifted clothing as her two children set a clothing rack outside of the store on fire, distracting employees while she shoved items into her purse. Jerdae Tanner was later arrested and charged with aggravated arson and contributing to the delinquency of a juvenile, a local ABC news channel reported.
Last week, shoplifting suspect Reginald Matthews was charged with petty larceny for stealing nearly $1,000 in apparel from a Primark store in King’s Plaza shopping center, according to Conan Daily
To raise awareness around the issue of shoplifting and organized retail crime, NRF named Oct. 26 Fight Retail Crime Day last month. It hopes to mitigate the issue by discouraging criminals for reselling stolen goods for a profit.
NRF supports the passage of the INFORM Act, which would require online marketplaces to verify the identities of high-volume sellers and share that information with consumers. It also advocates for the passage of the Combating Organized Retail Crime Act, which would establish a national coordination center so federal, state and local law enforcement could collaborate more effectively.
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce also wants lawmakers to pass legislation to stop the sale of stolen goods on online marketplaces and increase criminal penalties. While on the rise across the board, the Chamber’s September data shows retail crime is having a disproportionate impact on small businesses. More than half (56 percent) of the SMBs surveyed by the lobbying group said they have been victims of shoplifting over the past year, and a similar number said the issue has worsened in that time. Notably, 46 percent have been forced to increase prices as a result.
“Retail theft is not a victimless crime, and its increasing prevalence means greater danger for store employees and higher costs for law-abiding Americans,” U.S. Chamber executive vice president and chief policy officer Neil Bradley wrote. “Store owners are not only confronted with traditional shoplifting, but increasingly with highly organized criminal gangs who seek to profit by taking advantage of gaps in the law.”