Stores deploying unique methods to combat retail theft

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Stores looking to crack down on theft and smash-and-grab type robberies this holiday season have resorted to deploying coiled wire and other protective measures to deter would-be criminals. 

At The Grove shopping center in Los Angeles — whose Nordstrom store was targeted around Thanksgiving — yellow, coiled wire akin to something you would see guarding a prison has been erected outside, according to Newsnation Now.  

“If somebody’s running, trying to get through something quickly, they are going to have to navigate it and get tangled up,” Josh Nielsen, the vice president of Adamson Police Products, told the media outlet this week. 

A security guard patrols the front entrance of the Nordstrom store at The Grove shopping center in Los Angeles on Nov. 23 after an organized group of thieves attempted a smash-and-grab robbery. 
(Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)


In mid-November, the National Retail Foundation industry group said “organized retail crime now costs retailers an average of $700,000 per $1 billion in sales, and three-fourths of retailers saw an increase in ORC in 2020, according to NRF’s 2020 Organized Retail Crime Survey.” 

The report listed the top 10 cities most affected by organized retail crime as Los Angeles, Chicago, Miami, New York, San Francisco, Baltimore, Atlanta, Washington D.C., Philadelphia and Sacramento, in that order. 

“The NRF report found that half of retailers are allocating additional technology resources,” to deter theft, the group added, “while another 50 percent are allocating capital to specific loss prevention equipment.” 

Elsewhere in California, in San Francisco, officials announced new traffic patterns near high-end retailers in a bid to make it harder for thieves to park, commit crimes and race away, NBC News reports. 

“We will do what we need to do to put an end to this madness,” San Francisco Police Chief William Scott was quoted as telling the media. 

Police vehicles are stationed at Union Square following recent robberies in San Francisco on Dec. 2, 2021. 
(AP/Eric Risberg)


After a Nordstrom store was looted outside of San Francisco in Walnut Creek on Nov. 20, officials there reportedly closed a street. 

“If it means that we are going to detour roads, if it means we’re going to have more police on the street and more security around, whatever it is, every option is on the table,” Walnut Creek Mayor Kevin Wilk told NBC Bay Area. 

The San Francisco Police Department also announced in early December that “newly implemented crime-prevention strategies and beefed-up deployments of police resources in the wake of organized gang robberies in and around Union Square on Nov. 19 have resulted in significant reductions in retail- and holiday-related crime.” 

The police tactics being used in the shopping area, which the Department says includes officer deployments that will run “24/7 until further notice” and “partial or full street closures, if needed,” has resulted in only 12 theft incidents between Nov. 20 to Dec. 6, compared to 67 in the preceding 16-day period, data shows. 

At a Safeway supermarket in San Francisco, automatic gates reportedly have been installed to block potential thieves from quickly fleeing the store with shopping carts of goods. 

This undated image released by the California Attorney General’s Office shows stolen items from Bay Area retailers, recovered in a warehouse in Concord, Calif., where a search warrant was executed by California law enforcement authorities in the San Francisco Bay Area.
(California Attorney General’s Office via AP)


The same store also added barriers around its self-checkout area – creating only one exit — blocked off empty checkout aisles and placed a large display of water bottles in front of its entire side entrance, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.  

“Like other local businesses, we are working on ways to curtail escalating theft to ensure the wellbeing of our employees and to foster a welcoming environment for our customers. Their safety remains our top priority,” Wendy Gutshall, director of public and government affairs for Safeway’s Northern California Division, said in a statement to the newspaper. “These long-planned security improvements were implemented with those goals in mind.” 

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