Retail crime grows with demand for discounts

Tue Feb 24, 2009 5:31pm EST
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By Alexandria Sage

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - A mass of buyers for hot new products at huge discounts is fueling organized retail crime -- giving "hot" a darker meaning on the Internet, swap meets or flea markets.

High on the list are the latest video games or trendiest new handbags that can be easily resold, executives with the National Retail Federation, a U.S. trade group, said on Tuesday.

"The demand for product at a reduced price is significantly up. Consumers are looking at alternative resources to find products," said Joe LaRocca, the group's vice president of loss prevention.

"Unfortunately consumers and the economy are fueling a drive for this illegal or anonymous commerce that is taking place across the country."

Black markets for stolen goods can be deceptively bright: flea markets, swap meets and corner markets teeming with bargain hunters, as well as online auction sites like eBay Inc and classified sites like, LaRocca said.

Representatives for eBay and Craigslist were not immediately available for comment.

Three federal anti-retail crime bills are expected to be introduced this week in Congress, designed to give law enforcement more authority to fight organized retail theft, including online, the NRF said.

Some 85 percent of retailers surveyed by the NRF last year said they had been victims of organized retail crime.   Continued...

<p>An employee arranges bags at a Gucci showroom in Mumbai November 25, 2008. REUTERS/Arko Datta</p>