Cracking Down on Organized Retail Crime

Officials announce a crackdown on organized retail crime. Texas retailers say they lose almost 3-billion dollars a year due to the systematic theft. Consumers are hit in the pocketbook because stores try to recoup their losses by raising prices. Pat Hernandez has the story.

Across the nation, ORC, organized retail crime, impacts businesses to the tune of 15 to 30-billion dollar dollars a year. Closer to home, nearly 90-percent of retailers are victims of this kind of crime. Katherine Cabaniss is executive director of Crime Stoppers of Houston.

"We all know what shoplifting is, and that people often steal for personal use. Organized retail crime is much larger than that. It is theft from our retail stores that impacts us as consumers, our economy, and can even pose health risks."

One example of how organized the enterprise is that they'll go into a store, buy a big plastic container, fill it with items, and then pay for just the container. Cabaniss says items most commonly stolen range from designer clothes and electronics to over-the-counter medication and baby formula.

"It is a risk to your children, to feed them baby formula that has been the subject of organized retail crime, not maintained at an appropriate temperature, and then resold later."

Harris County Sheriff Adrian Garcia says ORC impacts the local economy by millions of dollars and challenges retailers who put hundreds of citizens to work.

"Instead of having these particular cases sit in a pile, we're gonna work to prioritize them. Because there are many many individuals behind these types of crimes, and we need to investigate effectively, and make sure we arrest those individuals as quickly as possible to send the right message."

You'll start seeing billboards and signs on taxicabs with the message 'Stop Organized Retail Crime.' With any information, call 713-222-TIPS, or submit a tip online at www.crime-stoppers.org. Tips can also be sent by text message-text TIP610 plus your tip to CRIMES(274637).

Bio photo of Pat Hernandez

Pat Hernandez

Reporter

Pat Hernandez is a general assignments reporter who joined the KUHF news staff in February of 2008...