At the National Retail Federation's Loss Prevention Conference & Expo last week in New Orleans, Joe LaRocca, NRF's senior asset protection advisor, gave a keynote address titled, "The ETs of Retail: Emerging Technologies and Emerging Threats."
LaRocca argued that while many emerging technologies—near-field communication, mobile POS, touchless payments, RFID, e-receipts, etc.—will help drive retail sales, improve efficiencies and increase customer satisfaction, they will also pose challenges for loss prevention professionals.
Here's a clip posted by the NRF of LaRocca discussing the challenges associated with e-receipts.
BOCA RATON, Fla.—Total losses from retail theft decreased by more than eight percent in 2011 compared to the year before, according to preliminary findings released today from the National Retail Security Survey conducted by Richard Hollinger at the University of Florida.
NEW ORLEANS—Attendees of next week's National Retail Federation Loss Prevention Conference, to be held in this city, can expect extensive conversations about emerging technology and organized retail crime, among many others.
WESLEY CHAPEL, Fla.—After retailers reported a drop in shoplifter apprehensions and recovered dollars in 2010, major retailers have reportedly bounced back, according to the 24th Annual Retail Theft Survey conducted by Jack L.
DALLAS—Shrink is on the rise, reported Professor Richard Hollinger from the University of Florida, who shared preliminary findings of the annual National Retail Security Survey with retailers attending the National Retail Federation’s Loss Prevention Conference & Expo in Dallas on June 14.
WASHINGTON—Incidents of organized retail crime is on the rise for retailers around the country and thieves are becoming more violent and brazen, according to the results of the seventh annual Organized Retail Crime survey.
ORLANDO—Walking into The Mall at Millenia, a luxury mall with 150 stores including high-end merchants such as one of only two Rolex storefronts in the country, uniformed security officers greet guests. That is intentional, said Gregg Moore, security director of The Mall at Millenia.
The majority of organized retail crime stories I've written about recently involve groups of thieves who travel around, hitting store after store after store. The I-95 corridor, for example, is a prime route for these gangs to travel because it's easy for them to hit multiple states and allude the jurisdiction of any one police department. The picture I've drawn in my head is of this group of hardened criminals, packed in a white van, plotting their next stop. But, turns out, that may not be the case at all.
I just read this Chicago Sun-Times article about a group of 70 youths who “stormed” a McDonald’s restaurant. It's actually unknown what this group was trying to do, other than cause the restaurant to voluntarily shutdown for three hours, but apparently this isn't the first time the Chicago police have dealt with flash mobs in the area:
“Both CPD and [Loyola] campus safety believe this activity is related to the same group of individuals who have attempted to create havoc in the area before,” wrote Robert Fine, the director of campus security for Loyola and a veteran Chicago cop, according to the article. “In February, we alerted you to a similar incident in which these ‘Flash Mob Offenders’ allegedly committed thefts within local retail stores around the Water Tower Campus community. The offenders exit the Chicago Red Line stop, they go to various shops or restaurants, usually clothing stores, and then storm the stores, taking as many items as they can carry. The incidents seem to occur most often on weekends, between 5 p.m. and 11 p.m.”
I'm wondering if this flash mob approach is becoming more common in retail theft than "traditional" organized retail crime. The theory, I'm guessing, is that if you show up with a huge group of people and grab as much as you can, the store can't possibly stop or even think about arresting everyone. Scary stuff if you're in loss prevention.
And, just in case you're really out of the loop, flash mobs have become a bit of a sensation in recent years, the most well known being gatherings of people in malls or other public spaces who sporadically perform some sort of act (usually a choreographed dance) and then disperse. It's quite entertaining, really. Usually these events are organized via social media like Twitter and Facebook. For your reference, here's my favorite from the Liverpool Train Station (and I think it's actually an ad, so it may not be a "real" flash mob, but it's entertaining):