Some of the country’s top retailers are shutting down their stores, not because of poor patronage but as a result of retail theft. Recently, a Home Depot top executive has stepped forward to shed more light on the rising threat.
Retail theft has grown beyond the random and low-scale incidents we were used to. Now, the perpetrators are more defiant and the operations more harmful.
Over the past year, Home Depot has lost two of its staff – Blake Mohrs, 26, and Gary Rasor, 83 in two such incidents. Home Depot CEO, Ted Decker, has described the new wave of theft as a “big problem for retail.”
To worsen matters, retail theft has now assumed an organizational dimension. In August 2023, a pastor was arrested for orchestrating the theft of over $1.4 million worth of goods from multiple Home Depot stores in Florida.
According to the Miami Herald report of the story, the clergyman, 56-year-old Robert Dell, ran the theft ring with close members of his family, including his wife and mom.
Dell, who ran a halfway house for substance abuse victims, manipulated vulnerable people into participating in the illicit act. His gang targeted Home Depot stores, where they shoplifted items almost daily.
Dell sold the stolen merchandise on eBay through an account with the name “Anointed Liquidator.” Home Depot believes Dell and his group have been in the business for up to ten years.
Retail theft has become a big business. The National Retail Federation believes that the retail industry has lost over $100 billion to theft. Every day, there are reports of dozens of incidents across the country. Little wonder Bob Nardelli, former Home Depot CEO, has described the trend as an “epidemic” more infectious than Covid-19.
Home Depot’s Vice President in charge of assets protection, Scott Glenn, has revealed that the retail theft business is growing by double digits every year. “More and more we’re seeing the risk being brought into the stores, and people being hurt or people even being killed in many cases because these folks, they just don’t care about the consequence,” he said to ABC News.
Equally worrying is the ease with which the products are disposed of on online markets such as eBay. To make things more difficult for shoplifters, Congress has passed the INFORM Consumers Act that mandates these e-markets to obtain more information about top sellers and reveal this information when required.
The sellers implicated by this law are those who complete more than 200 yearly transactions and sell goods as high as $5,000 within the same period.
On their part, the retail companies have beefed up security, including spending more on facilities and equipment such as recording towers and more lights for their parking lots.
In addition, Home Depot is placing high-value items under lock to make highly expensive shoplifting more difficult. The home improvement retailer believes that this is a better measure than an outright closure of its shops.