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WRA attends Organized Retail Crime board meeting

By Mark Johnson, Senior VP of Government Affairs

The Washington State Organized Retail Crime Alliance (WSORCA) held its board meeting at the Federal Way police headquarters last week.  WRA is a founding member and serves on the board.

Several new developments transpired;

  • The board elected new members including representatives from Lowe’s, Target, and JC Penney.  Welcome to these new members.
  • The board discussed hosting another ORT conference in the future.  WSORCA has hosted a number of ORT conferences that have seen from 300-500 participants.  These conferences are designed to bring together retail loss prevention, asset protection officers, law enforcement, prosecutors and other stakeholders to share new tactics and strategies in the fight against organized retail crime, which accounts for over $45 billion in losses nationally.
  • I reported on a pilot program in Federal Way called operation “Starfish” developed by Federal Way Judge, Dave Larson.  The program seeks to break the cycle of ORT thieves that continually hit retailers.  The strategy is if a retailer apprehends a thief at their establishment who is in need of services, such as mental health or addiction, they can offer to divert that person to the coordinated resources, thus hopefully helping them keep from repeating their crime.   Some retailers report annual store losses of $1 to $2 million.  These costs are seen in increased prices and loss of sales and tax revenues.
  • Finally, the board discussed the possibility of the state raising the felony theft limit from $750.  The board unanimously disapproved of this threat.  Raising the limit will undoubtedly increase the amount of theft retailers will incur.  Also being discussed at a state level is the possibility of cutting property crime sentences.  Again, it’s a bad move that will just encourage thieves to steal more knowing that the consequences are very minor, if at all.  Washington State needs to be tough on crime to protect retailers and their customers.

WSORCA hosts a web-based application for police and loss prevention officers to share information about ORT suspects.  The site has now been upgraded for use on mobile devices.  If you are a loss prevention officer interested in joining the site please contact me for approval:  mark.johnson@retailassociation.org.

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