Stores Thinking Outside the Box To Combat Surge in Retail Theft

by John Jamison
(Photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)

Retailers are fed up with their goods being stolen. And the problem goes way beyond the occasional case of shoplifting. We’re talking about calculated, organized criminals pulling off large-scale smash-and-grab operations. Many establishments are putting their foot down this holiday season. How? Well, they’re basically turning their stores into fortresses.

Burglar alarms and those pull-down metal screens on storefronts just aren’t cutting it these days. In the face of increased theft, places like The Grove—an open-air shopping mall in Los Angeles—have installed coiled wire security systems.

If it’s good enough for a prison, it’s good enough to make thieves think twice about trying to pull off a quick smash-and-grab. But these coiled wires aren’t perched atop a fence. They are the fence. That’s right. Picture a coil of barbed wire but scaled up to the circumference of a tube slide you’d find at a playground.

But don’t let the playground comparison fool you. These coils are nothing to play with, and they certainly aren’t easy to slip through.

“If somebody’s running, trying to get through something quickly, they are going to have to navigate it and get tangled up,” Josh Nielson of Adamson Police Products told Newsnation Now recently.

The Grove is not alone, however. According to the National Retail Foundation, businesses everywhere have felt the impact of theft enough to do something about it.

“The NRF report found that half of retailers are allocating additional technology resources. While another 50 percent are allocating capital to specific loss prevention equipment,” the industry group said.

Some Cities Have Gone to Such Lengths as to Alter Traffic Patterns

To stem “this madness” of retail theft in the Bay Area of California, cities themselves have come to the aid of high-end retailers. Officials are willing to do whatever it takes, within reason, to protect businesses from the threat of theft.

“If it means that we are going to detour roads, if it means we’re going to have more police on the street and more security around, whatever it is, every option is on the table,” said Kevin Wilk, the mayor of Walnut Creek.

Retail Theft Causes Staggering Losses for Businesses Across the Board

Businesses already have plenty to worry about between reaching enough customers to turn a profit and dealing with disruptions to their supply chains. The last thing they need is entire stores full of products to vanish overnight.

And when you put all the numbers together, it quickly becomes clear why many are taking such proactive steps to protect their goods.

 “Organized retail crime now costs retailers an average of $700,000 per $1 billion in sales. And three-fourths of retailers saw an increase in ORC in 2020, according to NRF’s 2020 Organized Retail Crime Survey,” per the NRF.