In the vast landscape of retail, theft remains a persistent challenge, with two primary forms distinguishing themselves: Organised Retail Crime (ORC) and opportunistic theft.

In an exclusive interview with Robert Harling, President & CEO of Gatekeeper Systems, a provider of loss prevention services and solutions, we delved into the nuances of these two types of theft and the strategies to combat them effectively.

Distinguishing characteristics

Harling delineates the disparities between ORC and opportunistic theft, highlighting their distinct modus operandi. He explains, “Organised Retail Crime (ORC) is systematic and involves a network of individuals coordinating to steal merchandise for resale, often using sophisticated methods.”

Conversely, opportunistic theft typically involves individuals acting alone, driven by impulse or immediate need, without broader network involvement.

Gatekeeper Systems’ extensive analysis reveals that ORC primarily targets high-value products easy to resell, while opportunistic theft spans a broader range of items, from food to household goods.

Tactics and impacts

The tactics employed by ORC groups differ significantly from those of opportunistic thieves.

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ORC groups execute well-planned heists, bypassing security measures and exploiting vulnerabilities during peak hours, whereas opportunistic thieves blend in with regular shoppers, often going unnoticed.

Despite differing approaches, both forms of theft pose substantial financial risks to retailers.

Harling notes, “The financial impact of ORC is substantial, with the average shrink rate in FY 2022 increasing to 1.6% from 1.4% in FY 2021, representing over $112 billion in losses.”

Combatting retail theft: strategies and technologies

Addressing ORC requires a multi-layered strategy, including theft prevention technologies, employee training, and collaboration with law enforcement.

In contrast, strategies for mitigating opportunistic theft focus on enhancing in-store security measures and employee vigilance. Gatekeeper Systems’ Purchek technology emerges as a critical tool in combating both forms of theft.

Harling asserts, “Purchek technology operates on an intelligent system designed to detect and prevent theft in a non-confrontational manner.”

By immobilising shopping carts with unpaid merchandise, the system prevents theft without requiring direct employee intervention, thereby enhancing store security and operational efficiency.

Staying ahead

As theft behaviours evolve, retailers must remain vigilant and adapt accordingly. Emerging trends include the use of technology by ORC groups for cyber-enabled thefts and the exploitation of chaotic situations.

Harling advises, “Retailers need a comprehensive and layered technology approach to stay ahead of trends.” Gatekeeper Systems’ Purchek technology, with its non-confrontational approach and ability to prevent shoplifting, stands as a cornerstone in modern retail loss prevention strategies.

In the perpetual battle against retail theft, understanding the nuances between ORC and opportunistic theft is paramount.

With innovative solutions like Gatekeeper Systems’ Purchek® technology, retailers can fortify their defences, protect their assets, and cultivate a safe shopping environment for their customers.