Speaking to a congressional panel recently, Mr. Scott Glenn said that his company has seen a massive uptick in violent thefts since 2020, with shoplifting and the dangers posed by those committing it now being a major problem. Mr. Glenn is the head of loss prevention for Home Depot.
The hearing at which Mr. Glenn appeared to testify about the problem of retail theft and the violence coming with it was the House Homeland Security Subcommittee on Counterterrorism, Law Enforcement and Intelligence. During it, Mr. Glenn argued that the problem has not been exaggerated and that he has seen “bad actors” come into “violent contact” with Home Depot employees.
Pointing to 2020 as the time when the problem began to increase in intensity, Mr. Glenn noted that those committing the crimes have been getting violent with employees and care about little other than maximizing their theft, saying, “These individuals are becoming increasingly aggressive, they are dangerous, and often care little about any consequence other than getting out of the store with as much as possible.”
He went on to add that the issue here is neither petty shoplifting nor people stealing bread to feed their families, but massive rounds of theft in which those committing the thefts are trying to make money off of doing so. He said, “I want to be very clear that we’re not talking about petty shoplifting. We’re talking about theft for greed, not theft for need.”
Glenn went on to add that the perception of mass looting happening only in big cities is a false one, and that the massive rounds of retail theft are now occurring “everywhere,” including suburban areas. He noted, “There’s the myth that [organized retail crime] rings happen only in big cities. Unfortunately criminals don’t discriminate.” Watch Mr. Glenn testify here:
Retail theft is increasingly a problem for American businesses. According to the 2023 National Retail Security Survey, the total losses from theft last year were a whopping $112.1 billion. That is up significantly from 2021’s $93.9 billion in losses and up even more significantly from 2020’s $90.8 billion in retail theft losses.
While those areas hardest hit were big cities like Los Angeles, San Francisco, Oakland, Houston, New York, and Seattle, as Mr. Glenn noted, communities and stores across America were hit by the retail theft leap, not just big city stores.
NRF Vice President for Asset Protection and Retail Operations David Johnston, commenting on the matter, noted that the situation is becoming increasingly problematic for those operating retail shops, saying, “Retailers are seeing unprecedented levels of theft coupled with rampant crime in their stores, and the situation is only becoming more dire.”
Johnston also echoed what Mr. Glenn said, which is that the violent crime issue is increasingly a problem attendant with the shoplifting issue. Speaking on that matter, he noted, “far beyond the financial impact of these crimes, the violence and concerns over safety continue to be the priority for all retailers, regardless of size or category.“
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