In an attempt to better understand and target organized retail crime activity, the National Retail Federation announced a new partnership with the Department of Homeland Security's U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). This new partnership centers around a six month pilot program designed by ICE, which will assess the threat level of organized retail crime in several cities, including Los Angeles, Houston, Miami and New York. This program can assist ICE in apprehending criminals and supporting retailers in organized retail crime investigations.
"Retailers are very optimistic about their work with ICE in trying to combat organized retail crime, which has become an international problem for retailers of every shape and size," said Joe LaRocca, Senior Asset Protection Advisor at NRF. "NRF is committed to the fight against retail crime and we are grateful for the support and dedication of our partners at ICE."
Launched in June, the goal of the partnership is to provide a broader picture of the threat posed by criminal organizations and determine ICE's role in the fight against organized retail crime. There's no disputing that the stakes are high: according to NRF's latest organized retail crime survey, released in June, 72 percent of retailers surveyed had discovered criminal organizations exporting stolen goods outside of the United States or across state lines. Additionally, 28 percent of retailers have investigated criminal groups tied to street gangs with international connections.
"ICE has become increasingly involved in investigations that target organized retail crime due to the associated cross border criminal and financial activities these groups engage in," said acting director of the office of investigations for ICE Kumar Kibble. "This pilot program will enable ICE to work more closely with the NRF to identify and pursue those involved in organized retail crime."
During the six-month assessment, NRF will work with ICE to evaluate the level of organized retail crime across the country and will utilize tips acquired from the various retail community channels, including NRF's Investigator's Network, the Joint Organized Retail Crime Task Force and the Law Enforcement Retail Partnership Network.
ICE is the largest investigative arm of the Department of Homeland Security. ICE is comprised of five integrated divisions that form a 21st century law enforcement agency with broad responsibilities for a number of key homeland security priorities. ICE has approximately 15,000 employees working in 400 offices nationwide and more than 50 locations internationally.
About The National Retail Federation
The National Retail Federation is the world's largest retail trade association, with membership that comprises all retail formats and channels of distribution including department, specialty, discount, catalog, Internet, independent stores, chain restaurants, drug stores and grocery stores as well as the industry's key trading partners of retail goods and services. NRF represents an industry with more than 1.6 million U.S. retail establishments, more than 24 million employees - about one in five American workers - and 2008 sales of $4.6 trillion. As the industry umbrella group, NRF also represents more than 100 state, national and international retail associations. www.nrf.com.
SOURCE: The National Retail Federation