Organized retail crime has expanded to West Texas, thieves who are moving stolen merchandise from Dallas to El Paso make a stop off I-20, hit up one of our stores and make a big pay off.
Turns out, retailers aren't the only ones hurt by this, we are too! The FBI does a uniform crime report and on the report are facts about crime and how much money is stolen each year.
In 2008, $18 billion was lost from robberies, home theft and similar crimes. In a separate category, organized retail crime, the amount lost in 2008 was $30 billion.
"Organized retail theft is the largest property crime in the United States," explains Loss Prevention Manager, Mike Battles.
Most organized retail crime is done in groups…you've got one person distracting the sales person, another on the look-out, a third actually doing the stealing and a fourth driving the get away car.
"My reaction is almost stunned at the level of sophistication of these thieves, the organization that they go through," explains Midland City Councilman, Michael Trost.
Groups go to great lengths to make sure they're not caught, they use special tools and clothing to disguise themselves from surveillance.
"These are actual organized groups that do this for a living. They work 8-5, 4 to 5 days a week and they do this everyday and they travel," says Battles.
Once the goods are stolen, the crooks sell the merchandise to fences.
"[A fence] can be a flea market, it can be a person who has a house and they buy it for 20-30% of what it is worth and they'll turn around and sell it. They may us e-commerce or eBay, or Craig’s list to sell it," says Sgt. Darin Clements with MPD.
This type of crime is low risk- high reward and going to jail won’t stop these criminals. The state of Texas lost $153 million in sales tax revenue because stores like Target, Walmart and Walgreen’s were ripped off by retail crime.
"These people don't collect sales tax when they sell it to their fences, therefore all our stores are losing money which means the city, the state, everybody loses on the deal," says Trost.
Unfortunately, retail crime has a low punishment, the state is currently working on making the penalties a lot stiffer.