Sponsored by Energy Trust

Oregon shoplifting rates increase

| Print |  Email
Friday, August 01, 2008

Shoplifting THE 5-FINGER DISCOUNT GETS BIGGER


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.

JASON SHUFFLER

 

More Articles

What I'm Reading

November/December 2014
Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Peter Lizotte at ACME Business Solutions and Roger Busse at Pacific Continental Bank share their favorite reads.


Read more...

Powerbook Perspective

January-Powerbook 2015
Friday, December 12, 2014
BY LINDA BAKER

A conversation with Oregon state economist Josh Lehner.


Read more...

The short list: 5 hot coffee shops for entrepreneurs

Contributed Blogs
Friday, November 14, 2014

CupojoeBY JESSICA RIDGWAY

Oregon entrepreneurs reveal their favorite caffeine hangouts.


Read more...

Healthcare pullback

News
Thursday, November 20, 2014
112014-boehnercare-thumbBY JASON NORRIS | OB CONTRIBUTOR

Each month for Oregon Business, we assess factors that are shaping current capital market activity—and what they mean to investors. Here we take a look at two major developments regarding possible rollbacks of the Affordable Care Act (ACA).


Read more...

Corner Office: Timothy Mitchell

January-Powerbook 2015
Saturday, December 13, 2014

A look-in on the life of Norris & Stevens' president.


Read more...

Healthcare Perspective

November/December 2014
Wednesday, October 22, 2014
BY KIM MOORE

A conversation with Majd El-Azma, president and CEO of LifeWise Health Plan of Oregon, followed by the Healthcare Powerlist.


Read more...

See How They Run

January-Powerbook 2015
Friday, December 12, 2014
BY LINDA BAKER

Studying ground-running birds, a group that ranks among nature's speediest and most agile bipedal runners, to build a faster robot.


Read more...
Oregon Business magazinetitle-sponsored-links-02
SPONSORED LINKS