Two major groups of retailers and the Federal Bureau of Investigation will launch a national online database Monday to share information to fight organized retail theft, which costs the industry billions of dollars in stolen merchandise each year, reports the Baltimore Sun. The Law Enforcement Retail Partnership Network (LERPnet) represents a rare spirit of cooperation in the fiercely competitive retail industry and a significant partnership with law enforcement officials, who traditionally view retail crime as petty theft.
The database is a joint effort of the National Retail Federation and the Retail Industry Leaders Association. About 35 retailers are participating, already logging more than 14,000 incidents. The list includes Macy’s, Sears, Limited Brands, American Eagle Outfitters, Mervyn’s, and Beall’s. Most police departments and retailers haven’t connected the dots between crimes until now, said Joseph LaRocca, NRF vice president of loss prevention. H said retailers have been reluctant to share information. Unlike shoplifters who steal for their personal use, criminals involved in organized theft rings steal merchandise and resell the goods to flea markets, pawn shops, or on the Internet. It costs the industry as much as $30 billion annually. The problem is growing, with shoppers paying almost 2 cents on every dollar to cover the cost.