Retail crime grows with demand for discounts: NRF

Tue Feb 24, 2009 7:19pm EST
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By Alexandria Sage

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Consumer demand for hot new products at huge discounts is fueling organized retail crime, with goods stolen from retailers finding an audience in secondary markets like the web, a retail trade group said.

High on the list are the latest video games or trendiest new handbags that can be easily resold, executives with the National Retail Federation 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.

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.

EBay's deputy general counsel, Tod Cohen, said in a statement that the company has been working cooperatively with other companies and law enforcement in order to fight the online sale of stolen goods.

He called discriminatory the legislation soon to be introduced in Congress.   Continued...

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