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Article: SIY: Steal it Yourself – How Organized Retail Crime is Getting Rich Off of DIY Stores



Most amateur criminals, thieves included, are not very sophisticated. They are mostly driven by addiction or other factors leading to desperation, stealing as needed with little forethought or consideration. However, this is not the case with professional thieves. Professional shoplifters are typically part of an intricate, complicated criminal network often referred to as Organized Retail Crime (ORC).


Professional shoplifters are typically smarter than amateur thieves and choose their targets carefully. This type of thief specifically looks for a couple of main characteristics when considering which retailers to steal from. First, they seek out retailers who sell products that are high in demand because this type of merchandise can quickly be resold for cash. Additionally, they look for retailers who appear to provide the easiest ways of escape without detection. For these reasons, Home Improvement retailers tend to be prime targets for Organized Retail Crime.


To better understand why the Home Improvement industry has been so heavily impacted by ORC, consider the following:

  • High Value Goods – Power Drills, Saws, Generators, and Power Washers are always in high demand

  • Easy Resale – New tools are easy to liquidate online, in-person, and across an unscrupulous pawn shop networks

  • Easy Entry and Egress – Large Home Improvement and Hardware Stores typically provide multiple

Although Home Improvement retailers such as Home Depot, Lowe’s and Menard’s have strong Loss Prevention and Asset Protection strategies in place to combat shoplifting, professional thieves quickly adapt to such strategies and continue to inflict great harm to this industry’s financial bottom line.


The High Cost of Theft

A basic online search of news stories involving shoplifting from Home Improvement/Hardware stores reveals scores of thefts each valued at a minimum of $150, with an average of $1000 per theft incident. Most of these incidents involve Pushout Theft – a term used to describe a shoplifting method in which a thief loads up a shopping cart with merchandise and simply pushes the stolen goods out the door. This statistic is concerning, as this is roughly $200 more per incident than the average loss per pushout theft incident was in 2017. While the average of a $1,000 per theft is shocking, some individual stories show the risk to often be 2 to 3 times this average.


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The Role of Theft-Preventing Technology

Gatekeeper Systems understands the issues facing Loss Prevention today – non-confrontation policies, greater shoplifter violence, and increasingly expensive thefts encouraged by decriminalization. Thieves are aware of these issues and have begun to abuse them with targeted theft amounts, disregard for security, and brandishing weapons against employees who try to apprehend them.


Traditional methods for addressing this problem have increasingly become inadequate. To address these issues effectively, retailers need to look for a technological solution. Only technology will provide the ability to recover merchandise without confrontations or risk to employees and customers.


Gatekeeper Systems’ Purchek® system is the premier technological solution to address this epidemic. Purchek® offers a single solution to the multiple problems facing Loss Prevention, including the protection of customers and employees, as well as the protection of valuable merchandise from theft (making it available for customers), all without interfering with positive customer experiences.

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