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Thieves take retailers for billions of dollars, survey says

Shoplifters and dishonest employees stole more than $7 billion last year from just 23 major retailers, according to the 23rd Annual Retail Theft Survey conducted by Jack L. Hayes International. These 23 surveyed retailers apprehended more than 1 million shoplifters and dishonest employees in 2010 and recovered more than $148 million from these thieves. 

Shoplifting and employee theft continue to plague the retail industry, according to Mark R. Doyle, president of Hayes International. The problem leads to higher prices, higher costs and it can force retailters to close unprofitable stores, he said.

Hayes International is a Wesley Chapel, Fla.-based loss prevention and inventory shrinkage control consulting firm.

Recently, retailers haven't been able to defend themselves as aggressively as years past, he said. “For the first time in over 10 years, total shoplifter and dishonest employee apprehensions, and the dollars recovered from those apprehensions all declined from the previous year,” he said. 

The retailers surveyed made almost a million shoplifting apprehensions, apprehended more than 69,000 dishonest employees, and recovered more than $148 million from the shoplifters in 2010. These numbers are all down slightly from the previous year. 

"It appears the economy, fewer store employees and less loss prevention staffing all played a role in these results," Doyle said.

Other highlights from the survey: 
• Participants: 23 large retail companies with 19,104 stores and more than $632 billion in retail sales (2010).
• Apprehensions: 1,029,276 shoplifters and dishonest employees were apprehended in 2010, down 3.8% from 2009. 
• Recovery Dollars: More than $148 million was recovered from apprehended shoplifters and dishonest employees in 2010, down 7.3% from 2009. 
• Shoplifter Apprehensions: 959,903 shoplifters were apprehended in 2010, down 4.1% from 2009. 
• Shoplifter Recovery Dollars: More than $104 million was recovered from apprehended shoplifters in 2010, a decline of 4.7% from 2009. An additional $33 million was recovered in 2010 from shoplifters where no apprehension was made, up a substantial 16.4% from 2009. 
* Employee Apprehensions: 69,373 dishonest employees were apprehended in 2010, down 0.4% from 2009. 
• Employee Recovery Dollars: More than $44 million was recovered from employee apprehensions in 2010, down 12.7% from 2009. 
• On a per company basis, one in every 33.2 employees was apprehended for theft from their employer in 2010. (Based on more than 2.8 million employees.) 
• On a per case average, dishonest employees steal 5.9 times the amount stolen by shoplifters ($639.99 versus $108.46).

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