STYLE
05/03/2010 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

Organized Retail Crime On The Rise

Organized retail crime is on the rise according to the "Current Crime Trends" survey by the Retail Industry Leaders Association (RILA), WWD reports. The FBI estimates that $30 billion worth of merchandise is stolen each year. L.A. has seen the highest rise, followed by Houston, Miami and Baltimore.

Sixty-five percent of a broad array of retailers -- mass merchants, specialty stores, electronics and appliance stores, groceries, and fabric and craft shops -- surveyed in January reported an increase in organized retail crime, while 74 percent said they experienced an increase in stolen items being sold on online marketplaces. Forty-seven percent said there was an increase in hot goods being sold both in traditional fencing operations and flea markets, and another 16 percent said there were more stolen goods being sold in pawn shops. In addition, 78 percent said there was an increase in amateur shoplifting.

RILA Senior Vice President for Government Affairs John Emling explained that retail robberies are coordinated crimes with more serious implications:

"A lot of times, crime rings are using the profits to fund drug operations or much more criminal activity. In cases with [U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement], we have seen South American and Central American gangs receiving profits from organized crime rings here in this country."

RILA will now use the new findings to work with Congress on creating legislation to curb retail crime.