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The Cincinnati Enquirer reports that the growth of organized retail theft has grown to the point where “retailers are losing $30 billion a year – a number so alarming that the nation’s largest grocer recently hired its own manager of organized crime. He oversees investigators in each of Kroger’s 17 divisions across the nation. They call organized retail theft a ‘gateway crime,’ opening up valuable leads into other cases involving foreign and U.S. currency counterfeit, guns and narcotics.

“Last October, the Kroger team worked with federal immigration agents in Seattle to apprehend 32 people suspected of stealing $4.87 million worth of goods from six retailers over 16 months. Authorities say the ring shipped vehicles full of stolen goods overseas to be sold in Cambodia. Kroger lost $1.21 million.

“Organized retail crime ‘is increasing constantly,’ says Dennis Dansak, manager of organized retail crime for downtown-based Kroger. ‘And I take it personally’.”

The story goes on:

“Kroger formalized its commitment to fighting organized retail crime in 2009 when it hired Dansak, a 34-year law enforcement veteran who had served with the FBI’s counterterrorism unit.

“Kroger won’t share the exact scale of its organized crime-fighting effort. But Dansak says his teams study product losses and surveillance videos, analyze criminals’ behaviors and compare data with other retailers.

“They also research and test new technology and anti-theft devices. Some retailers use sophisticated electronic surveillance systems at exit doors to track barcodes on products leaving a store. Spider Wraps, alarm devices attached with thin steel cables, can be wrapped around boxed items like DVDs and video games; they sound an alarm if they’re tampered with ... Kroger investigators provide products for law enforcement agencies to use for ‘reverse buys,’ in which an undercover officer sells items to a fencing operation to prompt an arrest.

“Nationally, Dansak is working with federal immigration agents on five cases. An average organized retail crime case, industry-wide, involves more than $500,000 of lost goods.”
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