Crime and Safety

Target Takes Extreme Measures in Desperate Bid to Stop Shoplifting

The crime of retail theft has become a major problem for stores across America, and it is driving big chains to take drastic action to stem losses reaching into the hundreds of millions of dollars.

Retail giant Target reported in a conference call this week that its profits have taken a major hit due to shoplifting, a crime referred to as “shrink” in the retail industry, WNYW-TV in New York reported Thursday.

The company called “inventory shortage or shrink” a “growing problem” resulting in expected lost profits of more than $600 million this year alone.

“At Target, year-to-date, incremental shortage has already reduced our gross margin by more than $400 million vs. last year and we expect it will reduce our gross margin by more than $600 million for the full year,” Chief Financial Officer Michael Fiddelke said, according to WNYW. “This is an industry-wide problem that is often driven by criminal networks.”

Company officials added that while the theft was spinning out of control in certain localities, they are now seeing it extending outside those areas.

“This is primarily driven by organized crime,” Target COO John Mulligan said.

The growing retail theft problem has led the company to begin locking up a number of small items that are easily stolen from the shelves, including cosmetics, toothpaste and razors.

The theft has become such an issue that Target has launched its own “forensic sciences” division to help identify at-risk products and devise solutions to stem the tide of theft.

The team uses video analysis, computer technology and even latent fingerprint forensics to help solve organized retail crimes.

Has shoplifting become worse in recent years?

Target is not alone.

Walgreens was hit so hard by retail theft that it announced the closure of five stores in downtown San Francisco last year.

“Organized retail crime continues to be a challenge facing retailers across San Francisco, and we are not immune to that,” Walgreens spokesman Phil Caruso said, according to SFGate.

It is so bad in San Francisco that even security guards hired to protect the retail outlets have been reduced to powerless observers as large groups of thieves swarm stores stealing products by the armful.

The drugstore chain Rite Aid said last month that retail theft had become so bad in New York City that it was considering redesigning all stores to put nearly every item behind locked displays, WNYW reported.

An employee of the company was killed last year when trying to intervene to stop thieves at a Los Angeles store.

Citing New York City as the main source of the loss, Rite Aid CEO Heyward Donigan said the chain had lost $5 million in just the last three months thanks to “shrink.”

Company officials hinted that city prosecutors were falling down on the job by refusing to prosecute retail theft.

“The environment that we operate in, particularly in New York City, is not conducive to reducing shrink just based upon everything you read and see on social media and the news in the city,”  Chief Retail Officer Andre Persaud said. “We’re looking at literally putting everything behind showcases to ensure the product is there for customers who want to buy it.”

Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg is one of the reasons retail theft in New York has gone so wildly out of control.

Early this year, for instance, Bragg announced that his office was set to begin downgrading charges for many felonies and would seek prison sentences for only a handful of crimes.

As a candidate, he was supported by leftist billionaire philanthropist George Soros.

“Mr. Soros also pledged $1 million to the super PAC Color of Change, aimed at helping another district attorney candidate, Alvin Bragg. A spokeswoman for the super PAC said that nearly $500,000 had been spent on Mr. Bragg’s behalf as of Friday,” The New York Times reported last year.

Many other retailers — including Best Buy and the Home Depot — have reported a growth in retail theft and shoplifting.

While these big corporations might be able to withstand the loss from “shrink,” organized theft from small stores is a business-killing problem and is devastating for local mom-and-pop stores.

With the influence of the soft-on-crime Soros, coupled with years of attacks on police, America has become swamped with crime of all kinds. It is long past time that we reverse this anarchy.

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