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Retail Theft Up But Is Bad Economy The Cause?

Shoplifiting sign
haledavid1
Shoplifiting sign

A record number of retailers--85%--say that they've been victims of organized retail crime in the past 12 months. That's up 6% since 2007.

Is this a Jean Valjean effect? In other words, is the tough economy driving shoplifting and organized retail theft? Or is this the result of increased accessibility of online resale markets and consumers willingness to buy from non-traditional third party merchants?

According to the NRF, nearly two-thirds (63%) of retailers experienced an increase in online resale of stolen items or "e-fencing" during the past 12 months. Maybe this illegal online market is booming because consumers are now comfortable with buying from eBay or unknown merchants if the price is right.

Whatever the reason, the result is a pricey problem for stores. Retailers spend approximately $230,000 per year on labor costs to fight organized retail crime each year. Some large retailers who have been directly affected by retail theft can spend upwards of $1 million a year to counter those kleptos. That's a significant sum particularly in a tight spending market.

So there ya go. I thought this was a juicy retail detail topic.

Questions? Comments? retaildetail@cnbc.com