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Retailers can be hit hard by organized crime in stores

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Many small-business owners work too hard on their products to have have them stolen by employees and shoplifters at their retail locations. Unfortunately, retail theft is a major and growing problem in the United States.

Recent figures compiled by the University of Florida found retailers lost nearly $36 billion in 2011 due to preventable inventory issues, employee theft, organized retail crime and administrative error. Alarmingly, more than 44 percent the losses suffered by retailers came as a result of employee theft, but it is a decrease from similar statistics in previous years.

"The decrease in retail theft indicates retailers are implementing effective loss prevention solutions in order to diligently protect their assets," said Richard Hollinger, a criminologist at the University of Florida who conducted the survey.

Retailers need to work on their site security
There are a number of ways smaller retailers can protect their shops from employee theft and shoplifters. Some of the ways may include security cameras, barcodes and security tags, along with the necessary business insurance policies they can use against members of their workforce who choose to steal from their employer. Working on strategies to combat theft can help the bottom line of any retail business.

"The holiday season is an important time for retailers to evaluate their security solutions, and the growing adoption and awareness of better loss prevention strategies has continued in the recent trend of reduced retail losses and improved profitability," said Hollinger.

Organized retail crime on the rise
Anything from professional shoplifting, cargo theft and retail crime rings can be considered organized retail crime, and the survey found nearly 26 percent of the $36 billion in losses incurred by retailers can be attributed to this type of theft. It's important for owners of retail businesses to look out for teams that are creating distraction in stores to steal their products. This is where security cameras and tags could definitely help catch criminals who have thought of strategies to rob stores.

"While theft is down this year, organized retail crime is on the rise and loss prevention solutions remain very important to help shrinkage continue to decline and operations run more efficiently and effectively," said Michael Creedon, vice president of retail sales and operations at Tyco Integrated Security.

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