What Does An End-to-End Solution for Combating Organized Retail Crime (ORC) Look Like?

Open-source intelligence, subject vetting, civil demand, exceptions-based reporting, and strong relationships within law enforcement and the courts are central to establishing a comprehensive solution for combating organized retail crime (ORC).

August 05, 2021     4 minute read

The resources to fight organized retail crime (ORC) seem to be shrinking, while ORC increases. This isn’t to say retailers lack the tools to effectively counteract the damage caused by theft and fraud. It’s a reminder that businesses of all sizes should have a well-developed solution for not only preventing loss but for successfully investigating perpetrators and organized criminals.

There are several powerful solutions available to retailers seeking to get the upper hand against ORC.


What Is Organized Retail Crime?

ORC speaks specifically to a collection of professional shoplifters who orchestrate retail fraud over any given city, state, or region. These are sophisticated criminals, not just petty thieves. These nefarious groups are also often connected to other criminal activities such as money laundering and illegal drugs. 

While petty thieves may stick to smaller items of lower value, those involved in ORC tend to steal medium- to high-value products that can later be resold. Structurally, ORCs consist of frontline thieves, middle managers, and high-level criminals. 

Fences are pivotal players in these fraudulent activities—individuals or groups who knowingly buy stolen goods from boosters (professional shoplifters) and then sell them for profit. These stolen goods are then purchased by consumers and businesses who often don’t know the products were obtained through fraudulent means. 

In the ORC world, fences will distribute lists to boosters detailing the items they want. It’s not uncommon for boosters to move stolen goods across state lines to connect with fences, and to avoid easy tracking of theft. Some fences will clean stolen goods, meaning they remove store labels and security tags. Goods will then be repackaged in more generic boxes, suggesting to potential buyers that such products merely came from a manufacturer or wholesaler, thus explaining away what should be suspicious packaging. E-commerce and online sales have made it that much easier for criminals to sell stolen goods to unsuspecting consumers, as it’s not uncommon to receive shipped goods in non-branded boxes. 

Ultimately, ORC creates many problems for retailers, and it can be daunting to come up with a comprehensive strategy for loss prevention and fraud.  

So, what are some end-to-end solutions for combating ORC?


Effective Approaches for Combating ORC

An end-to-end solution includes identifying, investigating, and resolving ORC theft of any size—whether the criminal outfit is a few people or a large-scale organization involved in other illicit activities.

Here are several effective solutions for counteracting theft and fraud.

Open-Source Intelligence Utilizes Endless Available Data

Open-source intelligence programs are on the cutting edge of loss prevention solutions. Open-source intelligence programs collect information from e-commerce communities, classified ads, social networks, the Dark Web, and other criminal data to identify ORC operations. All this information can be triangulated to monitor criminal behavior and help snuff it out.

An experienced third-party loss prevention provider will find this hidden information for retailers. If done properly, these open-source searches can discover nearly every detail about a potential perpetrator. 

Learn All You Can About Criminal Suspects

Subject vetting involves compiling profiles of perpetrators to support ongoing investigations. These fully developed profiles can compile extensive information including:

  • Social Media Activity
  • Phone Numbers (Including Cell)
  • Work History & Coworker Contacts
  • Business Affiliations
  • Identities of Relatives
  • Current Assets
  • Bankruptcies, Liens, & Other Court Records

Strong Relationships Between Investigators & Law Enforcement

Relationships with high-level law enforcement contacts are essential to investigating and combatting ORC. A premier loss prevention team or third-party provider will maintain strong ties with key individuals within the court system, including probation officers, clerks, and corrections officers. This results in the free flow of information between retailers, investigators, and the legal system. 

Given the sophistication of today’s thieves, these partnerships are vital to a successful loss solution strategy.

Utilize Legal Means for Recouping Losses

Legal strategies such as civil demand can help deter future theft and ensure retailers reclaim monetary damages. Civil demand enables retail victims to recover losses above and beyond the value of stolen goods and the costs of protecting against property loss. 

Not only does a retailer regain financial losses, but when multiple businesses within the retail district maintain the integrity of the community through the use of civil demand, petty thieves and boosters alike are discouraged.


Choosing the Right Solution for ORC

Of course, ORC has evolved, making it increasingly difficult for retailers to continue serving their communities. Open-source intelligence programs, subject vetting, civil demand, and data analytics are just a few of the tools necessary to create an end-to-end solution for combatting ORC.  

Many retailers employ an internal loss prevention team. And while there’s no doubt this is beneficial in the fight against fraud and theft, more and more businesses are turning to third-party providers to bear the bulk of the burden. 

Consider partnering with external civil recovery experts who likely have stronger relationships with law enforcement and the legal system, thus providing you greater assurance your business is always protected from the threat of ORC. This further empowers you to do what you do best—delivering goods and services that benefit your customers.  

The Zellman Group is a premier comprehensive loss prevention solution including expert data analytics, ORC investigations, and more. With decades of experience in retail, food, and hospitality, we work together with our clients to establish long-lasting relationships built on trust. We can help you identify perpetrators and protect against future fraud and theft. Contact us today to learn more. 

ORC Solutions

What You Need to Know About Civil Recovery

Civil Recovery is the legal method under state statutes for a company to recoup losses from retail theft. This article breaks down its mechanisms, benefits, applications, associated rules and penalties, and more.

Zellman Civil Recovery Ebook Cover

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