Sponsored by Oregon Business

Oregon shoplifting rates increase

| Print |  Email
Friday, August 01, 2008


STATEWIDE Shoplifting is an enduring nuisance but in tough economic times the problem goes from bad to worse.

As unemployment rises and goods become pricier, the temptation to steal only intensifies. “We have long seen the inverse relationship between the economy and crime,” says Portland State University criminologist Lynette Feder. “Often they’re doing it just to get by.”

It’s the staples such as food and clothes that are being targeted, says Mark Doyle, president of Jack L. Hayes International, a national loss-prevention firm based in Florida. The company publishes an annual report on nationwide shoplifting trends. In 2006, thieves stole more than $6 billion worth of goods from 23 major retailers.

Exact figures are hard to get because businesses generally don’t elaborate on their own shoplifting headaches to avoid being seen as a place that attracts criminal activity, says Robert Swanberg, owner of Gateway Services, a Portland-based security consulting firm. Also, many businesses deal with caught shoplifters internally, often with civil citations or threats to prosecute if they return.

But even those crimes reported show an increase. In Portland, crime was down in all categories for the first half of 2008 except shoplifting, say police, which is up 83 incidents from the same time period last year, 2,142 to 2,225. Eugene police have seen an 11% jump from 2006.

Dan Floyd, spokesman for Safeway in Oregon, says shoplifting is increasing, with food and easily resold items such as baby diapers and shaving razor blades being hot targets. Shoplifting accounts for $10 million in annual company loses in the state, says Floyd.

Many of the bigger retailers are less focused on small-time shoplifters than they are on organized retail crime. Last year Floyd, then a lobbyist for the Northwest Grocery Association, spearheaded and helped pass a bill mandating stronger enforcement and stiffer penalties for people in possession with intent to resell stolen merchandise worth more than $5,000.

Swanberg says laying off workers in a faltering economy only compounds the problem. Fewer workers on the floor emboldens thieves, leading to more swiped goods. “The big stores suffer the most,” he says.

Target, which has 17 stores in Oregon, says it’s also seeing more theft. In response, the company is training workers in preventative customer service skills, using more surveillance equipment and pushing for stronger shoplifting laws.

For some business though, shoplifting is a boon. “I am getting more phone calls every day,” security firm boss Swanberg says.



More Articles

The War Room

November/December 2015
Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Veteran political consultant Carol Butler plays to win.


OEN takes Portlandia route in new video

The Latest
Tuesday, October 27, 2015
Screen Shot 2015-10-27 at 3.27.58 PMBY JACOB PALMER | DIGITAL NEWS EDITOR

Several Portland entrepreneurs make appearance in patently silly "The Dream of the Startup is Alive in Oregon" promo.


Insurance pulse: health care and Export-Import banks

Linda Baker
Tuesday, November 17, 2015
111715-healthcarelindathumbBY LINDA BAKER

The past month has been marked by upheaval in the health insurance markets. I also check in on clients of the Export-Import bank, a federal credit agency that subsidizes, and insures, foreign exports.


The God complex

Linda Baker
Wednesday, September 30, 2015
093015-zydellren-thumbBY LINDA BAKER | EDITOR

The media coverage about Pope Francis must have put me in a Biblical frame of mind. Because after touring the latest phase of the South Waterfront development, a mind boggling 1.5 million square feet of office and retail space that will spring up north of the aerial tram over the next few years, I couldn’t stop thinking about the massive project as a modern day creation story.


Video: 100 Best Nonprofits to Work For in Oregon 2015

The Latest
Monday, October 05, 2015
100-best-NP-logo-2015-video-thumbVIDEO BY JESSE LARSON

Profiling some of the organizations featured in the 2015 list.


The death and life of American cities

Linda Baker
Monday, November 02, 2015
housingoldpdx thumbBY LINDA BAKER

The hollowing out of the American city is now a bona fide cultural meme.  Newspapers, magazines and digital media sites are publishing story after story about the morphing of urban grit and diversity into bastions of wealth and commodity culture.


The High Road

November/December 2015
Wednesday, October 28, 2015

As CEO and owner of five different cannabis-related businesses generating a total net revenue of $2 million, Alex Rogers could sit back and ride the lucrative wave of Oregon’s burgeoning pot industry.

Oregon Business magazinetitle-sponsored-links-02