By Doug Baker, Vice President, Industry Relations, FMI

Asset Protection 2023

In 1985, I started a new job in the grocery industry. My focus as a seventeen-year-old courtesy clerk was on properly bagging grocery items with a relatively new plastic bag that was becoming an industry standard. In case you’re curious, the trick is to ensure you don’t use all the items in boxes too soon because they make for good walls and stability.

Back then, the industry also had a very different strategy for stopping someone attempting to take something from the store without purchasing it. At that time, we called it shoplifting, five-finger discount, or in the most severe sense, robbery or burglary. Anything referred to as “organized” would remind us of the movie Scarface where Al Pacino portrayed mobster Tony Montoya. Today, Homeland Security Investigations (HIS) defines Organized Retail Crime as “the association of two or more persons engaged in illegally obtaining items of value from retail establishments, through theft and/or fraud, as part of a criminal enterprise.”

Recently, cases of shoplifting and Organized Retail Theft (ORT) have increased exponentially and, in some cases, forced a retailer to shut a store down due to the inability to profitably run the store or provide a safe environment for its associates and paying customers.

Factors Leading to Increased Theft

There are several factors at play with the rise in theft, including early releases from prison due to overcrowding, increased felony thresholds and even workforce issues in law enforcement. Food retailers are working with a variety of solution providers to deal with the increase in ORT. These solutions range from instore mitigation tactics provided by companies like Electronic Article Surveillance (EAS) tagging devices from ALL-TAG to the smart-sensing shelf insert TALLY that communicates with retailers the instant a product is removed from the shelf.

Partnerships for Solutions

However, we’re finding there is no one-size fits all solution to mitigating theft. As a result of increased felony thresholds, it’s no longer as simple as calling the local authorities and giving a statement. This means it is a very time-consuming effort for food retailers to bring the alleged to justice. Which is why companies like  ALTO has created the ALTO Alliance bringing together law enforcement experts, attorneys and government officials to work with retailers to effect change in the community and courtroom.

Join Us to Learn More

This March 19 – 21, FMI will host its second annual Asset Protection & Grocery Resilience Conference at the Hyatt Regency, Orlando, where Loss Prevention Magazine’s Kevin McMenimen and Jac Britton will lead two ORC panels exploring this topic from the federal government and retailer perspectives. In addition, we’ll have retailer panels discussing topics from Active Assailant to Operational Shrink, and event Frictionless Shopping and Crisis Communications. Join us for the conversations, solution-sharing and networking.  



Asset Protection & Grocery Resilience Conference