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Retailers locking up everyday products, frustrating customers

A security experts says stores are locking up more items due to an uptick in organized retail crime.
Retailers locking up everyday products, frustrating customers
Posted at 7:42 PM, Apr 30, 2023

Big name retail stores like Walmart and Target are putting everyday items like deodorant under lock and key to prevent items from being stolen, but some customers tell Scripps News it’s ruining the shopping experience.  

Estrellita Bradic posted a video on TikTok last year after she saw products locked up at her local Target in Los Angeles.  

“The most I've waited one time was like 10 minutes. And that was frustrating,” Bradic said.  

She told Scripps News since posting that video, Target has locked up more stuff, like makeup products and laundry detergent.  

“And the area that it's in it sits at the lower end of Baldwin Hills in Los Angeles, which is an affluent African American community,” Bradic said. 

Another TikToker, Travis Hodges, also posted a video on the platform showing items locked up at a local Walmart in Nashville. 

“What is the world coming to?,” Hodges said. ”People just can't go to the store and buy something. And I guess it takes one person to ruin it. I don’t know.” 

A new report from the National Retail Federation reports individual shoplifters aren’t the problem, it’s organized retail crime. 

David Johnston, the vice president of asset protection and retail operations at the NRF, said organized retail crime is becoming an increasing problem in the United States. 

SEE MORE: Why are retail thefts on the rise?

“These are criminal enterprises that organize, plan and orchestrate groups of shoplifters who go in and steal often and large quantities of theft,” Johnston said.  

The report found organized retail crime groups mostly go after everyday consumer goods, which it wrote are easier to steal and resell on places like Facebook Marketplace. 

As retail stores try to prevent theft, they could also be doing harm to their bottom lines. The report mentions security measures to stop theft, like lockboxes, could actually hurt sales “because of the inconvenience and delay these measures introduce to the shopping experience,” specifically at stores that don’t have enough employees.  

“Retailers do not want to lock up items,” Johnston said. “They want items to be readily available and accessible to their customers. Unfortunately, they also want the items to be there.” 

Scripps News reached out to multiple retail stores implementing lockboxes requesting an interview. Target responded back but didn’t provide any more detail other than the store takes “a multi-layered approach to combating theft,” which includes using “locking cases.”  

“It makes me, especially as African American woman, feel like I'm already, you know, being targeted and profiled as a criminal. I'm just being real and being honest about that,” Bradic said. 

Legislation to combat organized retail crime has been introduced at the national level. If passed, the Combating Organized Retail Crime Act of 2023 would establish a center for organized retail crime under the Department of Homeland Security in order to investigate incidents.

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