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Middle Tennessee TJX apprehends one suspect in ORC ring. One of the five members of an ORC ring has been arrested on felony charges, her four suspected friends are still on the loose. (source
Excerpts from GAO-11-675:  Efforts to Combat Organized Retail Crime

The U.S. Government Accountability Office ORC report June 2011

merging Regional Networks Helping Retail and Law Enforcement Partners Share ORC Information and Build Potential Cases

Given the importance of identifying ORC activity and developing potential cases across multiple jurisdictions, law enforcement entities and retail partners have established regional networks in recent years to facilitate information sharing among stakeholders and potentially identify linkages between connected theft cases. As previously discussed, ORC groups commonly target malls and retail stores across metropolitan areas or even along highway corridors spanning multiple states. As a result of these patterns, a high degree of coordination is required to share suspect information in a timely manner and facilitate the aggregation of multiple thefts into a larger case. A law enforcement official in Florida pointed out that ORC generally requires greater coordination with other state and local law enforcement entities than crimes such as robbery or burglary, which tend to be more localized. To help meet the demand for effective information sharing, a collection of regional networks has emerged in various locales across the country. While each functions independently, these networks commonly identify points of contact and help facilitate identification of ORC suspects and potential linkages between theft incidents. Involvement by federal entities in these regional networks is generally limited as the networks are primarily targeted to retail investigators and state and local law enforcement. However, the networks provide a mechanism with which potential ORC cases can be identified and developed to the point where stakeholders may present them to the attention of federal agencies.

While the specific format and available tools varied between the eight regional networks we studied, they share a number of common elements. For example, all eight of the ORC networks include a contact database of participating retail investigators and law enforcement members, as well as some type of mechanism to vet individuals requesting membership. The primary outputs for all of these eight networks are informational alerts to participating members when ORC or related theft activity occurs within the region. These alerts commonly include such data as suspect information, incident location, and merchandise targeted. The alerts are intended to be issued in a timely manner after the initial incident so that retailers and law enforcement may be able to detect or deter further theft activity or take additional actions if suspects are identified in another location. As table 2 indicates, the ORC networks we identified range from relatively basic technology platforms, such as Google Groups, to stand-alone websites that incorporate more advanced tools, such as maps indicating locations of recent theft incidents, customizable alerts, and keyword searching to identify incidents matching selected criteria. As an additional component, members of six of the regional networks also hold periodic meetings or annual conferences to discuss ORC-related trends and activities.


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