News

The Zellman Group joins The Loss Prevention Research Council

Written by Chelsea Barry, July 19th, 2016.

The Zellman Group, LLC is proud and excited to announce joining The Loss Prevention Research Council (LPRC) as a solutions partner member.

As a solutions partner member, The Zellman Group has the opportunity to collaborate and participate with the LPRC to continue to help retailers increase sales while decreasing shrinkage.

“We’ve just added another key LPRC member,” says Dr. Read Hayes, Director of The Loss Prevention Retail Council. “The LPRC and our 40 retail chain members welcome The Zellman Group to the fold; especially since their ORC expertise- and creativity in several other important LP/AP areas are a nice compliment to several of our very active working groups.”

Throughout their almost twenty years of business, The Zellman Group has always emphasized the importance of contributing to and improving the LP community. “We are excited to be a contributing member to the Loss Prevention Research Council. I find that the LPRC vision is in line with Zellman’s as we both are looking to identify Loss Prevention solutions for the Loss Prevention industry.” Zellman CEO, Stuart Levine states. “The LPRC work groups and action teams are in line with the services provided by Zellman. As the leading provider of data analytics or ORC recovery we are excited to participate in these groups.”

The Loss Prevention Research Council is a leader in real world research and analysis in the loss prevention and crime industry. Since its founding in 2001, by 10 leading retailers and Dr. Read Hayes, the LPRC has conducted 120 real world loss prevention research projects. These research projects are conducted through evidence-based studies with field experiments to provide retailers and solution providers with ROI data, statistical models for reducing shortages, supply chain and violent crime R&D, and an immense understanding for employee dishonesty and shoplifter dynamics.

The Zellman Group is a loss prevention services company that focuses primarily in retail, food service, and hospitality. At Zellman, we provide our clients with a third party perspective, while preventing loss, maintaining consistency, and maximizing profitability. Based in Greenvale, New York, The Zellman Group executives have an intimate knowledge of loss prevention, audit, civil recovery, analytics, and consulting.

 

Learn more about the Loss Prevention Research Council here.

National Retail Federation (NRF) 2016 Recap

Written by Chelsea Barry July 14, 2016

June 14-15 The Zellman team took the trip down to Philadelphia for the National Retail Federation’s Annual Loss Prevention Conference.

This year The Zellman Group, LLC decided to take a different approach to NRF with a ‘walk in the park’ themed booth. Equipped with lawn furniture, foliage, and full on grassy turf, The Zellman booth was the place to kick back, relax and learn about loss prevention. Another new addition to this year’s NRF booth was Wallie, our portable interface. Not only could one learn about Zellman’s many services through Wallie, but also charge one’s cell phone and take selfies with Wallie’s fun photo booth feature.

This year The Zellman group was a Platinum sponsor of NRF, sponsoring Tuesday’s Welcome Reception and First Timer’s Reception, the Grand Finale and Reception, Exhibitor Big !deas, Thursday’s Food Sector Appreciation Breakfast, and ORC/Investigators’ Network and Law Enforcement Breakfast Meeting.

Not only was Zellman a major sponsor of NRF, but also a speaker at the expo. CEO, Stuart Levine spoke with Fort Lee Police Captain Patrick Kissane and John Shanks, Law Enforcement Relationship Manager on the importance of ORC investigations. Their session, ‘ORC Beyond the Investigation’ focused on further developing law enforcement relationships with LP, understanding asset forfeiture, and how Zellman can maximize ORC recovery.

VP of Operations, Lauren Bridgeo and Director of ORC Recovery, Bill Ramos also spoke in LPNN’s Live Digital Conference at NRF called, ‘From LP Executive to Service Provider; Why is this important to the retail community,’ focusing on the transition from retail to service provider and the benefits of the relationship between the two.

All and all it was an exciting and memorable NRF for everyone at The Zellman Group. We look forward to next year’s expo and seeing everyone again.

Learn more about the National Retail Federation at: https://nrf.com/

The Zellman Group and the International Association of Chiefs of Police focus on ORC Recovery

This October, The Zellman Group, LLC is sponsoring the 123rd International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) Annual Conference and Exposition in San Diego, California.

The IACP Annual Conference and Exposition is the largest gathering of police officers in the United States. Currently the IACP has over 20,000 members, made up exclusively of police officers who have held executive roles in police agencies. The IACP is dedicated to advancing the law enforcement profession through advocacy, outreach, education, and programs.

The Zellman Group has a long history of working closely with police, especially through their work in Organized Retail Crime (ORC) Recovery. At the conference, CEO Stuart Levine, and Director of ORC Recovery Bill Ramos, are discussing the growing problem that is ORC and the importance of police involvement in ORC/ORT. “The relationship with Federal and local Law Enforcement leadership is instrumental in bringing ORC/ORT cases forward for prosecution and eventual recovery.  Our sponsorship with the International Association of Chiefs of Police ensures this continued networking to support the retail industry,” Levine states.

In a study conducted by the National Retail Federation in 2015, 97% of surveyed retailers were victims of Organized Retail Crime. Out of every $1 billion in annual sales $453,940 was lost from ORC. Out of those retailers surveyed, 78.8% support the need for federal ORC legislation. In states with ORC legislation, approximately half of retailers surveyed note that ORC laws are having a positive impact from increased support from law enforcement.

 

Learn more about The International Association of Chiefs of Police at: http: www.iacp.org/

 

Part II. The Future of ORC Management

What it Takes to Be Made Whole

By Garett Sievold, Contributing Writer

Imagine you’re a retailer with a major theft problem of a product at one of your stores (probably not hard to do). You start to poke around and discover the product is not only disappearing from one store, but it’s going missing across an entire region. You analyze theft data from store locations and by times of day. You study incident reports and other relevant information. Before long, your investigation points to a troubling realization—an organized ring of thieves is hitting your stores and your dollar losses are mounting. What now?

Identifying the bad guys is perhaps the easiest part of the process for loss prevention departments and retailers—successful civil recovery is typically more elusive. In one recent study citing liability, administrative burden, and the potential for bad publicity, several retailers admitted they don’t bother with recovery. Even some involved in civil recovery said they perceive limitations. “It’s not worth it,” said one retailer flatly (Retail Loss Prevention in Perspective, Gill, PCRI, 2016).But you’ve got a million-dollar case on your hands and you want your money back. You’ve got to do something.

Less experienced loss prevention departments may not know where to start, others are just learning to deal with organized retail crime (ORC), and others handle cases in any number of unique ways. But since recovery tends not to be a core competency, all retailers face significant obstacles to success.

It’s common for even the most competent loss prevention departments to lack skill in navigating the intricacies of the judicial system, and to lack confidence in knowing to which agency they should direct their case. They may be unsure who to engage to undertake related work, and they often lack the time and manpower to follow up on judgments. And while a retailer’s legal department may be masterful at negotiating leases, it is often not as comfortable working criminal cases, and may lack an understanding of the range of powerful legal tools that can be used to pursue civil recovery.

Success factors

Whether you will be successful in recouping losses in your million-dollar ORC case depends on a complex series of interrelated activities. One of the first is to assess whether your investigation is sufficiently complete to pitch the case to an agency, according to William Ramos, director of ORC recovery, a new service from The Zellman Group, a leader in civil recovery and loss prevention investigations. “We look to see if they have any missing information, fill in the blanks, and work with clients to put a complete case together,” he said.

A critical aspect of information gathering in this initial stage is to obtain details on the assets of persons of interest—before arrests are made. As a vetted authorized user of Thomson Reuter’s CLEAR, an invaluable yet costly intelligence tool, Ramos says they’re able to identify co-conspirators and get a clear picture of what recovery might be possible. This benefits a retailer in future restitution negotiations because it demonstrates upfront that the retailer is fully aware of the money that is available to be recouped—and that it intends to go after it. “It puts the retailer in a better position when they take the case to law enforcement and beyond,” said Ramos.

Also paramount to successful recovery is a retailer’s ability to navigate the complex legal environment that surrounds ORC cases. The ORC recovery service assists with documentation for presentation to law enforcement, prosecutors, and courts, and helps guide retailers to select the most effective path forward, such as whether to pursue the case on a local, state, or federal level, or whether to pursue civil litigation. The program also frees loss prevention departments to get back to conducting investigations rather than having to track cases and enforce court orders.

One essential document for successful civil recovery is a victim impact statement, according to Stuart Levine, President and CEO of The Zellman Group. “It’s a tool to make sure the retailer’s interests are represented as the case moves forward, so that judges are aware that they need to make the retail victim whole again,” he said. “We identify at the outset that the real victim in the case is our client and that we want our money back.”

An overlooked piece of a recovery effort—but perhaps one of the most important of all—are relationships. Although law enforcement and judicial system connections aren’t typically an important part of ordinary civil recovery cases, they are vital in cases of organized retail theft, according to Levine. Just about every case will come up against a brick wall—or several of them—and having experienced people that can break them down is vital, adds Lauren Bridgeo, vice president of operations at The Zellman Group. ORC recovery has a big hitter on its team in the form of John Shanks, Zellman’s manager of law enforcement relations. With 30 years of experience in civilian and military law enforcement, Shanks has forged relationships with a variety of stakeholders that prove priceless in ORC recovery cases.

As the above discussion suggests, successful civil recovery requires overcoming obstacles and jumping through hoops. However, there are some encouraging signs for retailers. The 27th Annual Retail Theft Survey by Jack L. Hayes International, of large retailers showed that they recovered 7.5 percent more from shoplifters in 2014 than the year before. And that retailers now have for the first time a service to help them manage ORC cases—ORC recovery—suggests that the retail industry no longer needs to cede the proceeds from seizures to law enforcement agencies and provides retail victims a much-needed voice in the recovery process.

Part I. The Future of ORC Management

Don’t Leave Money on the Table

By Garett Sievold, Contributing Writer

Houston had a problem. For that matter, so did the rest of Texas and neighboring states. Boosters were hitting retailers hard, “waltzing in…and brazenly walking out with stolen products of all kinds, from medicine and baby formula to health and beauty supplies,” according to the FBI. The ring of thieves shipped stolen merchandise (using phony accounts) to a shell company’s warehouse in Houston. The goods were then stripped of stickers and anti-theft tags, shipped to wholesalers, and put back in circulation. Every year from 2008 to 2012, this one shoplifting operation swiped an estimated $10 million worth of products.

But in March 2012 the jig was up. Ringleader Sameh Khaled Danhach was placed under arrest. Executing a warrant on the Houston warehouse turned up more than $300,000 worth of merchandise, as well as a ledger revealing that in just over one year Danhach paid $1.8 million for stolen merchandise that he turned around and sold for $2.8 million. In 2014, it took a federal jury in Houston just one hour to find Danhach guilty, and he was sentenced to serve 12-plus years in prison. Danhach appealed, filing a motion to suppress the evidence found in the warehouse search, but a few months ago, on March 9, the Fifth Circuit US Court of Appeals affirmed the conviction.The case is exactly the kind of crackdown on organized retail crime (ORC) that gives retailers hope and that law enforcement loves to tout. Indeed, the Danhach case was featured in the agency’s 2013 edition of The FBI Story, an annual compilation of successful major investigations and operations. “It all came to an end thanks to a multi-agency investigation by the FBI, the Houston Police Department, and the Harris County Sheriff’s Office, with the help of victim merchants,” the report trumpeted (“Organized Retail Theft—Major Middle Eastern Crime Ring Dismantled”).

But what, exactly, is the “end” of cases like these? They certainly have a feel-good conclusion—everyone enjoys seeing bad guys put behind bars—but Stuart Levine, president and CEO of The Zellman Group, questions whether retailers truly receive justice (or even adequate pay back) for their cooperation. “The retailer isn’t represented,” says Levine. “They just see that they never get their money back.”

Levine believes retailers need to be mindful of the unique interest that law enforcement has in such cases—to build as big a case as possible—which does not usually well serve individual retail victims of ORC. Additionally, the law typically allows for local and state law enforcement to liquidate assets from the crime rings they bust, which they are keen to do, so restitution for retailer victims is not (to put it nicely) high on their agenda. Finally, unless courts are pushed on the issue of restitution for retailers from the outset, they, too, typically neglect it.

Providing retailers an opportunity for their interests to be represented in ORC cases is exactly what The Zellman Group is after with its new ORC recovery program. Through the program, the first of its kind in the industry, retailers get help building strong cases and navigating the complex judicial environment to finally start getting back what they’re owed.

The need for a strategy to recoup losses from ORC is made clear by the latest industry data from the 2015 Organized Retail Crime Survey from the National Retail Federation. Nearly all retailers surveyed—a whopping 97 percent—reported being victims of ORC activity in the previous 12 months. More than 4 out of 5 retailers said ORC activity had increased in the previous year, with 48.5 percent reporting a “significant increase” in ORC activity. It’s a $30 billion-dollar problem annually, according to the data, and the attitude toward risk among the criminal element hasn’t significantly changed. “It’s still seen as an easy crime and that it’s treated lightly,” said William Ramos, director of The Zellman Group’s ORC recovery program. “A professional shoplifter may have 30 arrests before they see 6 months in jail.”

To be sure, progress has been made in the fight against ORC. Some 30 states now have ORC legislation on their books, up from 25 from a year ago. Surveys also indicate a greater awareness and understanding of ORC among law enforcement. But these developments only help retailers indirectly in their fight against ORC, according to Lauren Bridgeo, vice president of operations at The Zellman Group. ORC laws aim to hold professional shoplifters more accountable, they aren’t focused on making retailers whole again. And awareness among law enforcement—although it has made them a more valuable source of support for loss prevention departments—has chiefly resulted in police becoming savvy enough to seize assets for themselves. “The changes in laws are helpful for prosecutions but when it comes to recovering retailers’ losses they haven’t made much of a difference,” said Bridgeo. “To this point, it’s law enforcement that has reaped the benefit of proceeds from successful ORC cases.”

Given that the deck is stacked against retailers to recover money from ORC cases—and because the problem of ORC isn’t going away—it’s important for retailers to proactively define a strategy for managing it. To that end, retailers need to objectively assess whether they have the expertise, connections, bandwidth, and desire to manage cases—or whether partnering with professionals whose primary business is asset recovery is a better option for complex and time-consuming ORC cases. In Part II of our report, we’ll examine exactly what this alternative approach to ORC management looks like.

John Shanks joins The Zellman Group’s ORC Recovery Team

The Zellman Group is proud to announce John Shanks as the Manager of Law Enforcement Relations. John has an extensive law enforcement and military background. John’s more than 30 years of experience in civilian and military law enforcement and solid background in instructional system development provide a solid foundation for relationship building with Law Enforcement when engaged in ORC Recovery cases. He is a former Texas Police Officer holding a Texas Master Peace Officer License and several Instructor certifications. John is a veteran of the United States Air Force where he retired as a Law Enforcement Master Instructor from the Joint Law Enforcement and Security Training Center at Lackland AFB, Texas. Recently, John was the Senior Director of Development & Law Enforcement Relations at the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund and worked on law enforcement safety and violence reduction issues on Capitol Hill. John is the founder and Chairman of the USAF Police Alumni Association and Foundation a non-profit charity dedicated to preserving the history of Air Force Policing and honoring the sacrifice of USAF Cops killed in the line of duty.

The Zellman Group, LLC, based in Greenvale, NY, is the leader in Civil Recovery, a loss prevention services and consulting company working in the retail, food service and hospitality industries. Visit our new ORC page at ORCRECOVERY.com

The Zellman Group Announces the Industry’s First ORC Recovery Program

The Zellman Group, LLC, the leader in Civil Recovery and Loss Prevention Investigations announces their newest service ORC RECOVERY. Organized Retail Crime costs the retail industry more than $30 billion each year according to the National Retail Federation. ORC is a serious issue for large and small retailers nationwide.

The ORC RECOVERY department will be lead by William Ramos as the Director of ORC RECOVERY. Bill has more than 30 years of domestic and international retail investigation experience. He is a CFI. Bill, together with his team of investigators, the Law Offices of Michael Ira Asen, and The Zellman Group’s network of Law Enforcement contacts, has the criminal investigation, civil recovery and litigation expertise to deliver a cost-effective program and provide maximum ORC recovery.

Over a year in development, this expert team will assist clients in determining the scope of cases, assist in compilation of case information and documentation for presentation to law enforcement, prosecutor and civil courts. Their experts are able to interface with field investigators, Law Enforcement and Prosecutors pre-arraignment. Additionally, as a fully vetted authorized user of Thomson Reuter’s CLEAR, they are able to provide full due diligence on current assets and backgrounds of persons of interest. The team has the core relationships to negotiate with prosecutors, defense counsel and law enforcement for the distribution of proceeds with the goal of ensuring the highest recovery possible. Where reasonable, they will pursue civil litigation to seize assets, obtain and enforce judgments.

The Zellman Group and Chief Counsel Michael Ira Asen will be available to discuss this exciting new service at RILA in Dallas and NRF Protect in Philadelphia.

The Zellman Group, LLC, based in Greenvale, NY, is the leader in Civil Recovery, a loss prevention services and consulting company working in the retail, food service and hospitality industries.

Visit our new ORC page at ORCRECOVERY.com