Greater Spokane Inc. recently held the Public Safety and Retail Crime Breakfast at the Spokane Club. Local retailers and community members were invited to hear President and CEO of Washington Retail Association Renee Sunde and Attorney General Bob Ferguson speak about organized retail theft in Washington. Clinton Slovarp, the Market Manager at Walmart, opened the event. He explained that the cost of retail theft in Washington is enormous, and there are coordinated efforts to steal from retailers by organized crime rings.
Next, our attendees heard from Renee Sunde. Sunde explained that organized retail crime is an issue of public safety. In 2021, retailers saw a 26.5% increase in organized crime incidents, and 8 in 10 retailers reported increased violence and aggression. 25% of retailers had to raise their prices due to theft, and in Washington, organized retail crime is responsible for $2.7 billion in losses per year. The guests in the audience watched a video about how shoplifting sting operations strive to make a dent in the growing increase in retail theft to keep the public safe and assist retailers.
Attorney General Bob Ferguson took the stage to encourage the audience to reach out to legislators with feedback and testimony about how organized retail theft affects their stores and communities. Ferguson gave a presentation that explained that organized retail crime cases are more sophisticated than retail theft. Organized retail crime rings use people outside their operation to steal items from stores. They target multiple retailers in different jurisdictions, making them more difficult to arrest. Because the items are sold online, it is difficult to catch organized retail crime rings. The online marketplace contributes to this growing increase in retail theft, and Ferguson explained that he is working to stop stolen items from being sold online.
The breakfast closed with the last remarks from speakers and an opportunity for the audience to ask questions. Guides to Navigating Public Safety and Retail Crime created by the Washington Retail Association were made available, and attendees had another opportunity to speak with Sunde and Ferguson.
If you missed the event, visit washingtonretail.org for key links and resources from the Washington Retail Association about organized retail crime. If you’d like to get more involved in combating organized retail crime, you can contact Director of Public Policy Jake Mayson.