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Organized Crime Crushing Retailers [AUDIO]

Retailers nationwide continue to lose about $30 billion a year due to organized crime operations, according to a new report from the National Retail Federation.

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More than 80 percent of retailers said they have been a victim of organized retail crime (ORC) in the past year.

Dan Kitwood, Getty Images

“This is a group of professional criminals who walk into a store and, at any given time, swipe thousands of dollars’ worth of merchandise in one day from multiple stores,” said Kathy Grannis, NRF spokesperson. “It’s often multiple stores in multiple cities, and they use the interstates as their getaway.”

The report said criminals are also finding ways to manipulate retailers’ online operations. Nearly half of the survey respondents indicated their online systems are affected by organized criminal activity.

The crime gangs manage to take advantage of retailers’ return policies as well; they return stolen merchandise for store credit, and sell the credit for cash.

“This is affecting at least 7 out of 10 retailers that we know of,” Grannis said.

As of May 2014, according to the report, nearly half of all states including New Jersey have enacted laws specifically targeting ORC activity, which dropped by more than 5 percent from last year.

Despite the progress, the NRF report indicated “the need for federal legislation is greater than ever.”

According to the survey, 1-in-5 retailers say they know of instances where stolen products were illegally exported to other countries.

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