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Archives – 2007/2008

Survey: Twenty Four Retailers Lost $6.7 Billion to Theft Last Year

Retailers set a new record in 2007, as they apprehended more than 700,000 shoplifters and dishonest employees, according to the results of the 20th Annual Retail Theft Survey conducted by loss prevention consulting firm Jack L. Hayes International.The firm recently announced the results of the survey, which also found that criminals stole over $6.7 billion worth of merchandise from only 24 retailers in 2007. (, October 2, 2008)

New Law Prohibits Devices Used to Shoplift From Stores

Shoppers with large handbags may find themselves being watched closer. The Des Peres Board of Aldermen on Sept. 8 passed a law prohibiting any items that could be used to shoplift. These items include large handbags with false bottoms, devices for removing permanent tags from some clothing, or any tool that could be used for shoplifting.

“The number one crime that we encounter at West County is shoplifting, as far as stealing under $500,” said City Administrator Doug Harms. “To do that, people have become very inventive about methods that they use, including bags with false bottoms and instruments to remove security devices.” He said people suspected of shoplifting will be stopped, and if any of these items are found in their possession, they would be taken in for questioning. (Webster-Kirkwood Times, September 19, 2008)

Ebay prevails in suit over fake Tiffany goods

EBay Inc. scored an important victory in court Monday, as a federal judge said companies such as jeweler Tiffany & Co. are responsible for policing their trademarks online, not auction platforms like eBay. Tiffany had sued eBay over the sale of counterfeit jewelry on eBay’s sites.U.S. District Judge Richard J. Sullivan in New York said in a Monday ruling that eBay can’t be held liable for trademark infringement “based solely on their generalized knowledge that trademark infringement might be occurring on their Web sites.” Sullivan’s ruling came in response to a lawsuit filed in 2004, in which the jeweler alleged that most items listed on eBay as genuine Tiffany products were fakes.

The company said it had asked eBay to remove counterfeit listings, but the sales continued. EBay spokeswoman Nichola Sharpe said Monday that the ruling “confirms that that eBay acted reasonably and has adequate procedures in place to effectively address counterfeiting.” (The Financial Times, July 14, 2008)

Ebay Ordered to Pay LVMH for Counterfeit GoodsEbay prevails in suit over fake Tiffany goods

A French court yesterday ordered Ebay to pay almost €40m (£31m) to luxury goods maker LVMH for failing to do enough to block sales of counterfeit goods, a decision that hits at the heart of Ebay’s business model.The world’s biggest e-commerce company was also ordered to block sales of genuine bottles of perfume made by four LVMH brands after the court ruled that it had breached the selective distribution agreements that LVMH uses to control where and how the perfume is sold.Ebay said it would appeal against both rulings, claiming the decisions could have much broader implications for online commerce by imposing restrictions on the way goods can be sold and hence consumer choice. (The Financial Times, July 1, 2008)

Chinese Gang Charged with $147 Billion in Fake Receipts

The sums are impressive by any standards. Had it been uncovered five years ago, the scam would have amounted to nearly 10% of China’s GDP at the time. It is equal in value to Google’s stockmarket capitalisation today. In what is being described as the biggest scandal of its kind since 1949, four men pleaded guilty in a court in Yunnan on February 22nd to producing bogus receipts valued at 1.05 trillion yuan ($147 billion). These could have denied the tax authorities more than 75 billion yuan in revenues. A fifth suspect will stand trial in a separate case.The scam, operating in nine provinces, was based in Guizhou. In all, more than 1m fake receipts were found, ready for shipping to Kunming, Yunnan’s capital, where they were to have been distributed and sold in China’s larger cities. Two lorries were needed to carry them away. According to the tax authorities, the fake receipts were indistinguishable from the real thing.. (The Economist, February 28, 2008)

Outrage in UK over Staff Blacklisting Database

Last week the announcement that several UK retailers were collaborating on compiling a database of employees dismissed over suspicion of theft or fraud caused furore amongst the public, trade unions and civil liberties groups.

The database is the brainchild of Action Against Business Crime (AABC), the national organisation for Business Crime Reduction Partnerships in the UK, and is due to go live later this month.

Employees who are dismissed for dishonesty or who resign before they can be dismissed will be added to the National Staff Dismissal Register (NSDR), which can be searched by prospective employers when conducing a background check on a job candidate. Acts that can get an ex-employee put on the register include theft or attempted theft of money, merchandise or property, falsification or forgery of documents, fraud, causing a loss to the company or causing damage to company property. (, May 12, 2008)

CCTV has Failed to Slash Crime

Massive investment in CCTV cameras to prevent crime in the UK has failed to have a significant impact, despite billions of pounds spent on the new technology, a senior police officer piloting a new database has warned. Only 3% of street robberies in London were solved using CCTV images, despite the fact that Britain has more security cameras than any other country in Europe. (The Guardian, May 6, 2008)

The Cost of Shoplifting

Retail theft used to get little attention — and retailers were just fine with that. Little press meant that potential thieves could not figure out how to steal from them and that the public would not learn that most of the theft was done internally, or that theft is widespread throughout the industry. But Dan Doyle has spent the past few years talking about it with everyone who would listen: other retailers, law enforcement and even the public. As a spokesman in the retail loss prevention industry and the former chairman of the National Retail Federation’s Loss Prevention Advisory Council, he has brought the issue to the forefront and helped change attitudes that retail theft is a petty crime and that teenagers who shoplift are the typical perpetrators. (, March 30, 2008)

Store Losses Studied

Retailers around the world spend more than $2 billion every month on loss prevention, yet shoplifting, fraud, and administrative errors just keep mounting. These losses rose 1.5 percent last year to almost $100 billion. European stores already have lower shrinkage rates than retailers in the United States, and they are working to reduce them further by adopting more sophisticated loss prevention practices similar to those practiced by U.S. companies. “Europe is following the U.S. with more managerial, audit-finance methods” says Joshua Bamfield, the report’s lead author. (Security Management, March 19, 2008)

Thieves could escape jail in shakeup of sentencing rules – if they are drug addict

In the U.K., thieves who steal to feed an addiction to drugs, drink or gambling could escape jail under new sentencing guidelines. They would even escape jail if they hit or threaten a vulnerable victim, such as an elderly shopkeeper. The normal jail term for criminals who steal from vulnerable people would start at 18 weeks. (The Daily Mail, March 13, 2008)

Guide to Check and Card Fraud

This guide describes the problem of check and card, including debit, charge, credit, and “smart” cards, fraud, and reviews factors that increase the risks of it. It then identifies a series of questions to help you analyze your local problem. Finally, it reviews responses to the problem, and what is known about them from evaluative research and police practice. (Pop Center,February 21, 2008)

Survey: Companies overconfident in their data security

Deloitte & Touche’s second annual security survey of more than 100 companies in the technology, media, entertainment and telecommunications industries has found that an overwhelming majority are overconfident in their ability to prevent security breaches.

Sixty-nine percent of respondents said they are confident about the ability of their organizations to mitigate external security threats. However, 46 percent of those same companies don’t have a formal information security strategy in place–something that would seem to be necessary to mitigate those threats. The survey was based on information collected from CSOs, CISOs and security management teams between May and December 2007. (CSO Online, February 13, 2008)

Compliance: Gauging Success Through Hotlines

Data generated through hotlines can provide a barometer of employee perceptions. Do they believe the company will protect their confidentiality? Do they understand what issues to report, and do they fear retaliation? Hotline results provide an interesting point of view on these issues, including insights into developing trends in areas such as trust and integrity.

Consider what the Report indicates about open door policies, for example. Because so many issues had not been previously reported to management, it suggests a surprising trend. Despite organizations’ best efforts to promote reporting through managerial channels, employees may still prefer alternative reporting methods. (Sarbanes-Oxley Compliance Journal, January 29, 2008)

Effective Loss Prevention

For retailers, the first step is to know that the problem exists, and to put some resources towards that problem. We always say that it’s good to get some independent advice because a new set of eyes can be far more objective than those of someone who’s in the place the whole time. Get someone who will do assessments in your premises to look at how your premises are structured and how staff operate. (Inside Retailing, December 12, 2007)

Many Retailers Open to Wireless Attack

During a recent study, AirDefense (a wireless security vendor) staffers used wireless antennas to test the wireless “perimeters” of some 3,000 stores in major malls across the globe. The company discovered some 2,500 laptops, hand-helds, and barcode scanners and approximately 5,000 access points — and about 85 percent of them would have been relatively easy to hack. (Dark Reading, November 15, 2007)

Shoplifters get smarter

Shoplifting has gone big-time. Groups of thieves armed with store floorplans and foil-lined bags to evade security sensors are making off with vast quantities of merchandise. Selecting items from a ringleader’s list—electronics, razor blades, and baby food are among favored items—a savvy “booster” can haul off $5,000 to $10,000 of goods in a single day, according to the FBI. (Business Week, November 19, 2007)

Price tag for holiday fraud: $3.7 billion

The trade group estimates that return fraud will cost retailers $3.7 billion just in the fourth quarter, compared to $3.5 billion for the same period last year. For the year, retailers will lose about $10.8 billion to return fraud. (Money, November 7, 2007)

Study: Major Retailers Misperceive Shrink

Most major retailers perceive wrongly that shrink is a bigger problem for their competitors than for their own organizations, according to a new research report by the Loss Prevention Research Council sponsored by IntelliVid.

According to the study of more than 100 major US retailers, only 10 percent characterized their shrink as high compared to their competitors, while 65.5 percent said it was average. Twenty-four and half percent said their annual shrinkage was lower than average. One reason for this misperception may be there is no agreed-upon shrink measurement method, according to the survey. While 42.9 percent of respondents said their companies measure shrink “at cost,” some 57.1 percent reported their companies measure shrink “at retail price.” The differences exist within and between retail segments. (Retail Wire, July 25, 2007)

California Bill Would Put Data Breach Responsibility on Retailers

The California Senate Judiciary Committee on Tuesday approved a bill that would shift the burden of notifying consumers about data breaches from financial institutions to retailers. Under the bill, retailers doing business in California would have to notify consumers when and where their credit or debit card information was lost. The bill would also require retailers to pay for the costs involved in notifying consumers, as well as the costs of reissuing cards. In addition, retailers would be required to follow the Payment Card Industry data security standard. The bill is opposed by the state’s retail and banking sectors, which could block the bill in the Senate Appropriations Committee, where it must be considered before the fiscal deadline of Aug. 31. If those efforts fail and the bill becomes law, it could serve as a model for similar legislation on the federal level. (Information Week, July 6, 2007)

Retailers Asked to Adopt Standard to Combat Card Theft

Many states are expected to follow Minnesota’s lead and enact into law the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS). The U.S. federal government is also trying to enact privacy legislation that would provide consistent protection of cardholder data as well as a common framework for securing that data, said Canadian IT security consultant Mary Kirwan. Meanwhile, the Canadian government is looking into ways to better protect cardholder data, though it may not take legislative action, Kirwan said. Canada already has existing federal privacy legislation that requires organizations to provide ways of securing personal data and other sensitive information that is under their control. However, Kirwan said that she believed that legislation may not be the best way to ensure the safety of cardholder data. Instead, each player in the transaction process should live up to their responsibility to make the data secure, she said. (PC World Canada, July 6, 2007)

In the pursuit of happiness

When Rosa Chun decided to test the claim that happy staff make happy customers, she made two discoveries: first, many managers believed it so implicitly that they saw no reason to research it. Second, there is no empirical evidence for such a claim. Ms Chun is a professor of business ethics and corporate social responsibility at Manchester Business School. For her study, she interviewed 10,000 people (half were customer-facing staff, half were customers) at 13 UK retail organisations in financial services, food retailing, telecommunications and insurance. She asked: how satisfied they were, whether they would recommend a friend to work for the company or buy its products, and so on.Some business units revealed a positive correlation between happy staff and happy customers. But there were others where staff were happy but customers unhappy, or where customers were happy but staff were not. “Most managers believe the link because they have read some books,” Prof Chun says. “But when you dig into their actual experience, they have very little evidence.” (Financial Times, June 14, 2007)

ASIS Throws Hat into Standards Ring

Get involved or don’t get heard was the driving force last week for ASIS International’s decision to refocus its attention to developing standards for the security industry. ASIS officials announced last week that the 35,000-member security organization had a responsibility to aid in the process of developing standards, said Mark Geraci, chairman of the newly named ASIS Commission on Standards and Guidelines. In 2001, ASIS established the Commission on Guidelines to create guidelines to increase the effectiveness and productivity of security practices and solutions. That is no longer enough, Geraci said, after noticing other security organizations were creating standards initiatives with or without ASIS’ input.

“When you become well aware of the changes that are happening, you start receiving feedback from around the world and notice that ASIS doesn’t have a voice in the development of these standards,” Geraci said. “We realized that either we get involved and change our focus, or these standards would be written without our input.” (Security Director News, May 31, 2007)

Store design plays key role in reducing shoplifting

Video surveillance, loss prevention personnel and exception reporting are various tactics retailers use to mitigate shrink. And now, according to new research from the University of Florida, interior design is another tool LP departments can work with to further reduce the chances of theft inside stores. Caroline Cardone’s master thesis for UF’s interior design department takes an in-depth look at how a store’s interior layout can influence a shoplifter’s decision to steal. (Security Director News, February 1, 2007)