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Canadian Push 11-18-11


2011 Archives

Andy Buchanan, Associate VP Asset Protection, Marks -

ORC in Canada is a Plague We Can Mitigate –
Learning From Our US Peers

Whether you are Loss Prevention, Asset Protection, Profit Retention or any other of a myriad of names we as practitioners are identified by, you have been a victim of Organized Retail Crime (ORC) if you are in the bricks and mortar style business of buying and selling goods. As the economy bobs and buoys worldwide these groups grow in numbers due to need, greed or circumstance. In many cases we find that individuals we previously identified simply as perpetual offenders have now teamed up in an organized fashion with others and taken partners on to form their own little ongoing criminal enterprise. Unfortunately Canadian Law lags significantly compared to that of our US Counterparts when it comes to recognizing and dealing with such ORC issues. There are as many types and forms of ORC groups now as there are tactics they employ against us in our pursuit of profitability. We regularly see booster groups, fraud rings, organized addicts and alcoholics and a plethora of other forms of groups travelling the country as organized bands attacking our businesses while making a healthy living slipping through the cracks in Canadian Legislation. When reaching out for Police assistance in these cases, most if not all of us have been faced with the brick wall that is jurisdiction and the ever prevalent phraseology "what can we prove happened here in my city, not country wide but right here right now."

In the US there is State and Federal legislation specifically written and geared for ORC but in Canada we still rely on outdated modalities and belief structures. In July 2008 after years of lobbying by retailers and trade associations, legislation was introduced in the US Congress which spoke to the specifics of retail organized crime. The answer there as it is here was a combined industry approach with a unified vision. The Canadian battle cry to date has been very generic and singular in that the industry has cried out for recognition of this plague through such channels as the RCC Legislative Lobby asking for ORC legislation or specific retailers have made a plea for attention. The RCC Working Committee has others issues it is pursuing on its agenda and as such the ORC pursuit becomes an add on issue. By forming a specific lobby group and working with the RCC on this sole specific issue, we as an industry gain laser focus and one loud voice, we can define exactly what we would like to see and leverage the learnings and successes of our US Counterparts. With this we can forge forward with our desired mandate being spoken from this one industry voice. Any one individual retailer lacks the strength but together we can leverage our combined commerce and visibility pushing for one outcome and will be able to move mountains.

Section 467.1 of the Criminal Code of Canada deals with Organized Crime but as you read through the statute you will find that it was clearly written to battle such things as Motorcycle Gangs and has not proven very effective so far even in that application. The legislation speaks to wearing badges or having Words or Club names to identify themselves thus putting us outside that scope. The legislation required would take national scope into consideration and would deal with the specifics of retail crime. The links have already been proven between terrorism, drugs, money laundering and retail crime, what we need now is a defined legislative tool to battle this menace. Whether organically Canadian or an import from the south, I would urge my counterparts in the leadership roles within the industry to become an advocate and vocal proponent of such a lobby and together we will find success in our efforts.

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