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ORC 3-30-12



2012 Archives

Excerpts from GAO-11-675:  Efforts to Combat Organized Retail Crime

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

LERPnet Provides a Mechanism to Share Data Nationally, but Stakeholders Report That Use of the Database by Retailers and Law Enforcement Has Been Limited

As part of the Violence Against Women and Department of Justice Reauthorization Act of 2005, the Attorney General and the FBI were required to establish a task force to provide expertise to the retail community for the establishment of a national database, to be housed and maintained in the private sector and to track and identify where organized retail theft crimes occur. According to the legislation, the national database was to allow federal, state, and local law enforcement officials, as well as authorized retail companies, to transmit information into the database and review information that was submitted electronically. According to the statement of the amendment’s sponsor, the database was, among other things, intended to help provide federal law enforcement with information illustrating the interstate nature of organized retail theft crimes. While funds were authorized in the act for activities related to federal efforts to combat organized retail theft and for working with the private sector to establish and use the database, no money was ever appropriated under this section. Despite the lack of federal funding, a working group was established—comprised of the FBI and three major retail associations—to move forward with the development of the database. One retail association, NRF, ultimately took ownership of the project and provided the sole funding for the creation of what became known as the Law Enforcement Retail Partnership Network (LERPnet). LERPnet became operational for retailers in 2007 and was linked to Law Enforcement Online ( in January 2010, which provided access to all federal, state, and local law enforcement officers.

Despite initial support, none of the five retailers we interviewed found LERPnet to be a useful system for sharing information and identifying trends related to ORC. Two retailers told us they discontinued their membership in LERPnet because it did not provide a sufficient return on investment. A major retailer, which continues to support LERPnet, further indicated that its internal data along with regional information-sharing networks have generally been more useful than LERPnet in investigating ORC. While all five indicated that they believed in the goal of LERPnet as a way to share information, some felt it lacked sophisticated analytics to help retailers identify trends and standardized data entry (each retailer chooses what information to enter). Retail stakeholders indicated analytical tools to help identify national-level ORC trends and patterns would be useful, helping to connect suspect information. Local law enforcement officials we interviewed also indicated that LERPnet was not widely used to facilitate their investigative efforts. Specifically, officials from eight of the local law enforcement agencies stated that they rely primarily on regional information-sharing networks as their cases are typically regional in nature. According to these officials, the regional networks are most relevant to local law enforcement because they are specifically targeted to the investigative area and bordering jurisdictions and provide real-time updates.

Continued on Monday.

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