Retail Crime Is Rising—NACS Expresses Concerns to House Committee

NACS urges Congress to pass the Combating Organized Retail Crime Act of 2023.

January 11, 2024

In response to the alarming spike in crime across the nation and its detrimental effects on small businesses, the House Committee on Small Business is set to hold a full committee hearing today titled “Crime on the Rise: How Lawlessness is Impacting Main Street America.” Witnesses testifying before the Committee include small business owners, activists and law enforcement representatives.

In advance of the hearing, NACS, along with industry partners NATSO and SIGMA, sent a letter to Committee Chairman Roger Williams (R-Texas) and Ranking Member Nydia Velázquez (D-NY) expressing concern that the level of violence and frequency associated with crime in their members’ stores has evolved drastically over recent years.

“Retail crime has become a top issue of concern in our industry due to its dramatic increase. For example, since January 2020, the monthly per store losses due to theft in the convenience industry has more than doubled. With that increase, by August of last year, merchandise losses due to theft reached an average per store per month total of $1,953. This is a huge blow for businesses that survive on tiny profit margins of less than 2.5%. The Associations’ members have seen increases in theft of all products–including motor fuels, lottery tickets, tobacco products and cases of beer,” the letter said.

In addition to the amount of crime and theft at retail stores, the nature of those crimes has changed as thieves have become more brazen and more violent when conducting their crimes. Citing NACS’s 2023 Crime & Loss Prevention Survey, the letter states that one of the fastest-rising areas of concern for the industry is the “potential for violent crime against employees.”

“It is imperative that customers and employees feel safe in our stores. The Associations’ members have therefore invested in ways to combat crime and promote security in their locations–resources that negatively impact on their bottom line. Our members have spent resources on security cameras, alarm systems and technology solutions and, for some, security guards. In fact, across the industry, the largest areas of spending on crime prevention are in technology and video analytics solutions. These security investments are especially necessary in jurisdictions where law enforcement has been reluctant to respond. The Associations’ members have also increased spending on employee training in an effort to increase situation awareness, deescalate threatening situations and to help protect the safety of store personnel and customers.”

The associations urge Congress to pass the Combating Organized Retail Crime Act of 2023, which would increase the federal enforcement of organized retail crime. They also ask Congress to explore potential avenues to make the reporting of crimes easier and less burdensome for businesses and law enforcement, and to investigate how substance abuse and mental health issues also contribute to rising levels of crime.

The full letter to the Committee can be found here.

The hearing is scheduled for Thursday, January 11 at 10:00am ET and can be viewed online on the Committee’s official live stream.