ORC In Canada Gets
Attention - A First in History
Article and Background on The ORC Fight & Effort
Retail Crime taking off in Canada - An estimated $4.67B problem annually -
Canada's Federal ORC Legislation in Senate From Toronto's
Toronto Association of Police and Private Security (TAPPS) network to
Vancouver's - three-man anti-fencing unit at Vancouver Police Department
Canada is truly seeing and responding to the increased ORC activity
like their counterparts in the U.S. Over at Mac's Convenience Stores, Sean
Spotrun, manager of security and loss prevention for this 560 store chain
seen his share of ORC and recently helped bust a ring that was operating in
Great Toronto Area (GTA) that has also hit Winners.
They work off the highways. They're very transient. They will jump from
place, from province to province, wherever they feel they can get the
bang for their buck," says Sportun. According to a social media
year, consumers paid 20 per cent more for goods as a result of retail
"Things have changed immensely. The organized piece wasn't as
big ten years
ago. It was prevalent in the U.S., but it was not as big an issue for us. We
would have opportunistic theft, now we're dealing with very organized gangs.
These guys steal $10,000 to $20,000 a day or more," says Don
divisional vice-president, loss prevention and safety for Sears Canada.
talking a small percentage of the population here, but they do a lot of
What we are seeing is more sophistication, more organization," says
Police Services Superintendent Douglas Quan. We can have the same suspect
working in Toronto and they show up in Calgary the next week doing the same
thing. They're mobile. With rental cars and mobile phones and fraudulent
identification and credit cards, it gets multi-layered. It is
are becoming more sophisticated with each year."
In Toronto, the stolen goods are sold at pop-up events, warehouse sales,
markets and low-income malls in neighborhoods where people are so busy
make ends meet, they won't ask too many questions if the price is low, Quan
says. Stolen goods may also show up mixed among legitimate goods at
stores and discount stores owned by unscrupulous vendors.
Police and loss prevention experts in Toronto, Vancouver and Calgary are
innovative ways to crack down on organized retail crime.
In Toronto last year, a joint investigation by loss-prevention officers from
Aritzia, the Gap, Mexx and Toronto Police resulted in three arrests in
connection with an elaborate and organized shoplifting ring targeting mall
stores. Nearly $390,000 in clothing had been stolen and $90,000 in personal
items, including shampoo and hand cream, for a grand total of nearly half a
million dollars. The stolen goods were allegedly being sold from a semi-
home in the Jane and Wilson area.
The three-man anti-fencing unit at Vancouver Police Department (VPD)
taken down 53 fencing operations in three years, shutting down
stores where goods from Aritzia, Costco, the Gap, Holt Renfrew and Sport
among others, were being sold at half price. Fencing organizations often
the homeless and addicts to steal for them.
One small business owner in Surrey was able to collect $80,000 worth of
pharmaceuticals in two months, buying as much over-the-counter medication,
perfume and makeup as he could get from addicts and the homeless. The
has seized $1.7-million in clothing. They have had significant
working with the city to obtain business license suspensions, with more than
businesses losing their license for weeks or forever.
Many retailers are victimized every single day, multiple times a day,
in one store, sometimes across different stores in the chain.
Part of the problem is that retail theft is viewed as a low-risk,
crime. The penalties are minimal. Sportun says that even people who
multiple times are only held for a couple of days before they are out again.
would like to see stiffer penalties. He says criminals know they won't face
serious jail time for stealing from a retailer, so they stick to it.
Berezowski of Sears sits on the private-sector liaison committee for the
Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police. He believes that the growth
organized retail crime in Canada is due in part to the fact that police have
more resources to fight drug and gun crimes than they do retail theft. Also,
penalties for retail theft are low and the merchandise is quickly converted
cash, especially now, through online sales.
Why now? In the U.S., legislation has been brought in targeting organized
crime with tougher penalties. We haven't gotten to that point yet,"
There is clearly an issue with the prosecution of what may be, in some
opinion, a victimless crime," says Stephen O'Keefe, vice-president,
for the Retail Council of Canada and a former retail loss prevention
at Walmart Canada.
The RCC put a case for longer sentences to the federal minister of justice a
years ago, pointing out that no tax is being paid on any of the stolen
merchandise, said O'Keefe.
The problem is that most police departments can't afford to assign resources
the investigation of retail crimes, or actively maintain systems like TAPPS
Retail C.O.P. in Calgary.
A bill before the senate would give more flexibility to retail loss
prevention officers to share information for the purpose of protecting
sentencing guidelines are a moot point if you can't get someone convicted
organized retail crime activity," said O'Keefe.
For now, the job is in the hands of a growing cadre of loss prevention
professionals, working with police. "These organized crime rings aren't
scared. It will continue to grow until we are no longer the path of least
resistance," says Berezowski. Editor's Note: This is the
first time we've
seen such an article published in Canada and ORC has obviously become as big
a problem north of the border as it has in the U.S. We'd like to compliment
the teams and these leaders in this article for the work they're doing and
getting the press to cover it and give it such national attention. Good Luck
all the teams in Canada!