GAO interviewed retailers and law enforcement agencies to get a clearer picture of the problem.
Four of eight law enforcement agencies said retail theft and property crimes were often viewed as a lower priority than violent crimes, the GAO report noted. There’s an increasing awareness that ORC is often linked to other criminal activity, but none of the federal agencies GAO interviewed identified ORC as a mission priority. None have specific resources dedicated to conducting these investigations.
The dollar threshold that has to be crossed for ORC cases to be considered felonies varies from state to state; theft of $300 or more is a felony in Illinois; In Wisconsin it’s $2,500. Some states have even raised their felony threshold to free up resources for higher priority cases. ORC perpetrators are generally aware of that and steal below that amount to avoid felony charges, the report notes.
“Linking multiple retail theft events across jurisdictions is often essential to build an ORC case large enough to be considered for felony prosecution,” the GAO report states. No formal federal threshold exists, but stakeholders interviewed for the report said the value of stolen merchandise had to be between $100,000 and $1 million before the FBI will open an investigation.
WHATS BEING DONE:
The report looks at what individual retailers are doing as well as collaborative and government efforts.