Enhancing Loss Prevention
- By Ralph C. Jensen
- Nov 01, 2011
Do you ever wonder why commodities are so
expensive? I do, and I ponder the possibilities
of lowering the cost of goods. The problem
is thieves—inside and outside the retail setting.
Thieves are responsible for millions of dollars of
lost merchandise. They are directly responsible for the
price of goods being raised to compensate for items
taken out the back door. Whether it’s a ring of highly
sophisticated thieves or an individual store employee,
stealing merchandise is a problem.
Recently, Dallas’ local CBS 11 News had exclusive
access to raids across Dallas County as law enforcement
agencies executed “Operation No Return.” The
county’s district attorney’s office arrested 14 people
accused of operating an organized crime ring involving
stolen gift cards and retail clothing. The day this
information was released, three more people were expected
to be arrested.
The investigation took a year, and, in the end, authorities
were able to shut down what they called a
“major and sophisticated” retail theft ring.
Here’s how the theft ring operation worked:
“One person would provide the transportation; she
would wait out in the car while one individual went
out and actually stole the merchandise,” said Tony
Robinson, chief investigator for the Dallas County
District Attorney’s Office. “She [the shoplifter] would
leave the store, get back in the car, they’d drive to another
retailer and the person that was driving would
get out and go exchange the merchandise.”
This was a very clever bunch. They would often
accept gift certificates for the stolen merchandise they
returned to the retailers. Once the gift cards were obtained,
they would sell them on eBay, Craigslist or
even Facebook. According to investigators, the suspects
got away with hundreds of thousands of dollars
So, who absorbs the loss? You and I as consumers,
sure, but most definitely the retailer takes the brunt of
the theft and associated costs.
“To take this kind of loss, we’re talking in excess
of $400,000 that we know of,” Robinson said. “It’s a
major impact on a corporation’s bottom line.”
In this particular case, those arrested face charges
of engaging in organized crime and could serve from
two to 10 years in jail and fines up to $10,000. Hopefully,
the courts will understand that, if convicted,
these people have truly been a menace to society.
Statistics show that employees actually steal more
from retailers than any highly sophisticated ring of
thieves. I suppose when an employee gets caught, the
news generally isn’t that spectacular, at least not like
the trio busted in Operation No Return.
Kelvin O’Brien lived the high life for a while. He
and a couple of associates have been accused of swiping
more than $6 million in gold, watches and diamonds
from Karat 22, a Houston jewelry store.
O’Brien, his brother John and Jason Kennedy have
been charged with organized crime after they allegedly
targeted a number of high-end stores. The three
are believed to be responsible for as many as 30 thefts
in Texas and Oklahoma, dating back to 2000. Their
modus operandi included cutting a hole in the roof of
the store and cutting their way into vaults.
The Karat 22 store owner told investigators he was
alerted during the night that his store was under siege,
but when he checked security cameras from his home
computer, he didn’t see anything out of the ordinary.
However, upon arriving at the store the following
morning, he realized he had been burglarized. He determined
155 kilos of 22-carat gold, precious stones
and Rolex watches were stolen. Fortunately, surveillance
video from a nearby business showed a pickup
truck cruising the area on the night of the robbery,
and at about 4:30 a.m. two men could be seen dragging
heavy objects from the store to the truck.
Thank goodness for surveillance video. It helped
police identify the truck that belonged to Kennedy.
Investigators also found several cut blades at the
scene of the crime, apparently used to cut through the
vault. Put to the test again, investigators found that
the blades are sold exclusively at The Home Depot,
and thanks again to video surveillance footage, they
found John O’Brien buying some of the blades at a
store near his home in Fort Worth, Texas.
Theft begets greed, and the O’Briens and Kennedy
have shown how greed will land them in jail, hopefully
for a long time. The brothers expeditiously filled two
Home Depot buckets with 99 pounds of melted-down
gold, which they sold to Millennium Precious Metals
for $1.6 million on Feb. 7. Incredibly, only four days
later, the O’Briens were back to sell another 85 pounds
of melted gold, netting an additional $1.3 million.
Soon after the money was wired to their individual
bank accounts, Kelvin O’Brien paid cash for a $455,000
home, put in an $85,000 pool, paid cash for a $100,000
Land Rover and bought a $100,000 boat. Kennedy has
already confessed, and, thankfully, O’Brien will never
enjoy any of his allegedly ill-gotten gains.
This and many other examples are reasons security
is necessary in the workplace. Take a look around;
there are cameras and surveillance solutions everywhere.
The security industry is growing, and, with that
growth, video surveillance is among the technologies
that are improving by leaps and bounds.
This article originally appeared in the November 2011 issue of Security Today.