Cabela's forms investigations team to combat ORC

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

SIDNEY, Neb.—National outdoor retailer Cabela’s has formed a special investigations team that will tackle organized retail crime affecting its 38 locations in North America.

Brad Dykes, who joined Cabela’s as director of loss prevention in late October, is spearheading the new team. Dykes told Security Director News that the need to form a special ORC investigations team became clear after meeting with his senior management team and talking to the loss prevention professionals at its stores. He called it a “strategic approach" that would support stores in a new way and more efficiently affect profitability.

“If you have organized retail crime going on, you can spin your wheels quite awhile chasing after individual shoplifters that are hitting you in the store," Dykes said. "And for every one of those you apprehend there are potentially five or six more willing to come in and do the same exact thing. So what we’re really looking at is trying to get to the demand side of that equation so we get to the person sending those folks in and ultimately cut the head off the snake, so to speak, so that in the long run we stop that bad behavior.”

Dykes wouldn’t disclose specifics about Cabela's ORC-related losses, but said that of the company's total shrink, at least 20 percent to 30 percent is tied to ORC. Nationally, ORC is estimated to cost retailers as much as $30 billion annually, according to the National Retail Federation.

Once it was decided to form an ORC investigations team, Dykes did spend time reaching out to other retailers to learn about best practices when it comes to ORC investigations. He’s not totally inexperienced, however. He was an investigator at Target for several years.

The five-member corporate ORC investigations team will support loss prevention teams in the stores, but take over cases when a more robust investigation—the kind that requires surveillance outside the stores and partnering with federal, local and state law enforcement or district attorneys—is necessary, Dykes said. The team will also investigate e-commerce crimes.

Cabela’s investigations team won’t work in a vacuum. Organized retail crime hits retailers across the board, so it will be important during the process of creating this investigations team to not neglect the people side of the business, Bill Napier, Cabela’s senior corporate asset protection manager, told SDN. “It is very important as we build this thing that we don’t lose sight of educating and providing awareness, inside Cabela’s and outside, to everyone from law enforcement to prosecutors to other retailers, about our capabilities, what we do, how we do it, what the signs and symbols are and how to report it back to us,” he said.

Dykes echoed Napier’s remarks, noting that informing law enforcement and other retailers about Cabela’s abilities to support these type of investigations would be key. “Because ultimately this has to be a collaborative approach between retail, law enforcement and prosecutors to be truly successful in resolving the issue,” Dykes said.