Crime Is Killing the Retail Industry

by | Apr 17, 2024

Crime Is Killing the Retail Industry

For the first time in recent memory, people are scared to shop at brick-and-mortar stores in some cities. Places that, just a few years ago, were considered completely safe. How infuriating for not only business owners, but also the employees, customers, and the broader community. Crimes like smash-and-grab theft have become commonplace, and the retail industry is suffering.

Here’s the sad state of affairs:

  • In 2019, retail theft amounted to about $61.7 billion in losses. If current projections hold, the retail industry could lose more than $140 billion in 2025.
  • A survey found that 88% of retail industry professionals said thieves are exhibiting more aggression and violence.
  • More than half of small businesses experienced theft in the past year.
  • Nearly three-quarters of consumers will abandon their purchase or shop elsewhere if the store keeps products locked up.
  • More than 60% of retail employees are concerned about their safety.

If you’re fed up with the insanity, read on. You’re about to discover how businesses can regain the upper hand and stop crime from killing the retail industry.

The Plague of Crime in the Retail Industry

The increased losses businesses have experienced due to retail crime are staggering, and the alarm bells are finally ringing.

In major cities, where arrests are unlikely due to overburdened police forces and policy enforcement issues (more on that below), retail crime rates are particularly devastating. Shoplifting, organized theft rings, and smash-and-grab robberies have become common occurrences. We’ve seen the headlines and we’ve heard the news reports. But what’s really going on?

For businesses operating in major U.S. cities, retail crime presents a nearly insurmountable challenge that is destroying profitability, operational efficiency, and employee morale. It’s gotten so bad in some metro areas that major chains have shuttered stores. This trend includes notables ranging from Walgreens and Whole Foods to Target and Nordstrom.

Shoplifting alone accounts for billions of dollars in losses annually. Retailers struggle to prevent thefts of high-value merchandise. But, contrary to popular belief, it’s not just jewelry heists, as seen in your favorite blockbuster action flick. Anything that can turn a quick buck for criminals is fair game. Electronics. Liquor. Small appliances. Seafood. Clothes.

In an interview for CNBC, the owner of two clothing retail chains remarked that “average losses to theft before … 2019 were $2,000–$3,000 per month,” but now the value of stolen items has “averaged about $8,000 a month.”

Why Is This Happening?

Some locales have made the unfortunate policy decision not to prosecute certain types of crime, namely low-value theft. The result is that business owners are becoming overwhelmed by the impact.

This didn’t happen overnight, either. The lack of enforcement in these major metro areas has been implemented more and more frequently over the years. It’s now coming to its natural conclusion.

This issue is compounded by lax corporate-level shoplifting policies. To protect workers and (more accurately) minimize risk, many retailers expressly forbid workers from intervening in the event of a theft. They can report it if they have the time. But they can’t do anything about it even if they see the crime unfolding.

Some criminals are so keenly aware of these “soft on crime” laws and policies that they’ll nonchalantly walk in and out of stores—stolen merchandise in hand—like a relaxing stroll in the park.

The Retail Industry and the Direct Impacts of Crime

Aside from direct financial losses, businesses have to face the indirect costs of retail crime. These include increased insurance premiums, security expenses, and productivity losses stemming from inventory shrinkage and disrupted operations. And that’s just a sampling of potential costs.

But the problem doesn’t end there. The impact of retail crime extends beyond financial losses. It also affects the emotional well-being and physical safety of employees.

Retail workers face heightened risks of encountering aggressive or confrontational individuals engaged in theft, putting their physical safety at risk. These crimes take a toll on employee morale, contributing to stress, anxiety, and burnout among retail workers who must navigate the constant threat of violence.

Drive Businesses Out and See Who Suffers

The ripples of retail crime extend beyond individual businesses, impacting the fabric of the communities they serve.

Retailers are vital contributors to local economies. They provide jobs, goods, and services that anchor neighborhoods and foster economic growth. However, the prevalence of retail crime undermines community trust, safety, and cohesion, threatening the resilience and prosperity of urban areas.

Because here’s the truth nobody is talking about. The economic repercussions of retail crime reach all corners of a community. They’re affecting property values, commercial investment, and overall quality of life.

Unfortunately, the decision to avoid prosecuting “low-level” crime is actively hurting the communities many of these policies are trying to help. In theory, these laws allow economically disadvantaged people to avoid prison time for petty crimes. In practice, however, the situation is only encouraging more theft. And driving businesses away from communities that would benefit the most from having them.

Retailers Are Fed Up—Now What?

Criminals have been in control for far too long. If you’re like most business owners, you’ve had enough. It’s time to take matters into your own hands.

This is why Deep Sentinel has created FlashBang™. Businesses can finally get the upper hand with this powerful offensive weapon. And, before you ask, it’s legal across the United States.

When Criminals Get Nasty, Get Revenge. Learn More About FlashBang.
When Criminals Get Nasty, Get Revenge. Learn More About FlashBang.

FlashBang is a solution that deploys physical deterrents to suppress and subdue criminals. It integrates with Deep Sentinel’s live camera surveillance service, allowing businesses to deploy additional deterrents. These include:

  • Smoke Bombs
  • Pepper Spray
  • Strobe Lights
  • Ear-Piercing Sirens

When you become known as the business that “doesn’t mess around,” criminals will notice.

Put yourself in the mind of these crooks, who don’t want to be harassed or hassled too much. Just hearing about someone getting hammered by a FlashBang™ system is enough to take your business off the list of potential targets. After all, no one wants pepper spray in their eyes.

How FlashBang Helps the Retail Industry (and YOU)

If you’re not already … become a Deep Sentinel customer. That’s the first step because all FlashBang users need a Deep Sentinel PoE camera system and active monitoring subscription. Once everything is in place, here’s how FlashBang works with your PoE cameras and our live security guards to protect your business.

  • Smart Cameras Activate — Motion wakes the security cameras. These immediately send video data to a local PoE Hub. An AI algorithm separates potential threats like humans from harmless activity, eliminating false alarms.
  • Live Guards Engage — The Hub streams the audio and video feed to a professional LiveSentinel security guard. This guard elevates the situation and responds instantly. The guards can intervene directly using the camera’s 2-way audio. Typically, this is enough to de-escalate the situation, but if the criminals persist…
  • FlashBang Deploys — A guard can activate one or more FlashBang devices to prevent further criminal activity. Some advanced deterrents (like pepper spray) require secondary approval before deployment to avoid “misfires.”
  • Police Respond — As the situation unfolds, the guards also contact local law enforcement. Because a real person verifies all crime details, including suspect description and behavior, the police take these calls seriously and expedite a response.

Wield Your Own Deep Sentinel FlashBang System

Deep Sentinel is the only security provider that delivers the experience of a personal guard on every customer’s home and business. Now, it goes even a step further with FlashBang™. Cutting-edge technology and live camera monitoring services ensure the highest level of business security.

The retail industry has never been in better hands.

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When Criminals Get Nasty, Get Revenge.
With criminals becoming more violent, the response needs to become more aggressive. FlashBang subdues even the most determined intruders with smoke bombs, pepper spray, strobes, and sirens. Visit or call 833.983.6006 for more information.

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