Increasing Theft and Violence Continue to Harm Retailers, Retail Workers, and the Communities they Serve

Gainesville, Florida, September 26, 2023 – According to the National Retail Federation’s 2023 National Retail Security Survey (NRSS), retail crime continues to harm retailers, their employees, and the communities they serve. This survey, conducted in partnership with the Loss Prevention Research Council, shows that retail theft, violence, and other types of retail crime increased throughout the industry in 2022.

“Addressing violent crime and protecting employee safety remain retailers’ greatest priority” according to Dr. Read Hayes, Director of the LPRC and Research Scientist at UF. Dr. Hayes has been in the industry for nearly 40 years, and suggests that “retailers are facing challenges [he] would never have imagined a decade ago.” Unfortunately, according to David Johnston, NRF Vice President of Asset Protection and Retail Operations, the “situation is only becoming more dire.”

According to the NRSS, 88% of retailers reported shoplifters are more aggressive and violent when compared to one year ago. The report also reveals that 72% of retailers report violence during the commission of a crime is more of a priority compared to one year ago, while 65% report guest-on-associate violence is more of a priority.

“Retail violence and aggression is often related to organized retail crime, especially localized forms of ORC,” according to Dr. Cory Lowe, Senior Research Scientist at the LPRC and principal investigator on the NRSS for the LPRC. The report defines ORC as “theft or fraud conducted with the intent to convert illegally obtained merchandise, cash, cargo or cash equivalent for financial gain.” Nevertheless, 67% of retailers reported that aggression and violence associated with organized retail crime has increased in the past year.

According to Lowe, individuals and groups engaged in ORC often target items that have several of the CRAVED characteristics; that is, they are “concealable, removable, available, valuable, enjoyable, and/or disposable.” These characteristics make them ideal targets for individuals seeking to convert merchandise to cash. For example, items such as laundry detergent pods, handbags, fresh and frozen seafood, athletic shoes, over-the-counter medication, infant formula, and skin and beauty products are often targeted, according to the NRSS. This year, retailers identified Los Angeles, San Francisco/Oakland, Houston, New York and Seattle as the cities and metropolitan areas most affected by ORC.

Of course, all of this contributes to increased retail shrink. According to the NRSS, the average industry-wide shrink rate increased from 1.4% in fiscal year 2021 to 1.6% in fiscal year 2022. This represents approximately $112 billion in losses in 2022, up from an estimated $94 billion in 2021.* However, shrink differs considerably by sector. For example, pharmacy, grocery, department stores, and mass merchandise stores reported shrink rates of over 2%, on average. Alternatively, retailers in the jewelry, watch, home furnishings and furniture, and footwear sectors reported shrink rates of less than 1.5%, on average.

Dr. Lowe cautions readers to avoid conflating the retail shrink problem with the harms of retail crime because “shrink is comprised of both criminal and non-criminal sources.” For example, in fiscal year 2022, retailers attributed 36% of shrink to external theft; 29% to employee theft; 27% to process, control failures, and errors; 6% to unknown sources; and 1% to other sources, on average. However, the second problem according to Lowe, is that “shrink does not account for many of the other harms associated with retail crime, especially violent crime.”

Given the challenges described in the report, retailers are dedicating additional resources to address retail crime and losses. As mentioned previously, workplace safety remains a key priority among retailers, and 54% report they are increasing employee workplace violence training. However, 34% reported increasing internal payroll to address risks, 46% have increased their use of third-party security, and 54% reported they are increasing their budgets for technology and software solutions.

“Retailers remain committed to innovating to protect vulnerable people, places, and property” according to Dr. Hayes. As the NRSS shows, retailers are increasingly turning to mobile surveillance units to protect parking lots, and are using radio-frequency identification (RFID) technology to provide better inventory insights. However, “retailers are continuing to explore innovative technologies” according to Dr. Hayes, and are “trialing technologies such as body-worn cameras and computer vision analytics.” 

However, retailers have also adjusted their policies in response to these changes. According to the NRSS, 41% of respondents reported that none of their employees are authorized to stop or apprehend shoplifters. According to Dr. Lowe, retail companies adopt these “hands off” policies because retail offenders often pose a serious threat to retail employees and guests. However, this puts “retailers in a difficult position because it creates the impression among retail offenders that no one will intervene in retail crimes.”

While there is a “role for technology, tactics, and company policies to play in addressing these issues, these are only part of the solution,” according to Dr. Lowe. For fiscal year 2022, retailers attributed the largest portion of retail shrink to shoplifting, burglary, robbery, and other crimes committing by non-employees. Lowe suggests that “those who victimize retailers and retail workers come from, and return to, the surrounding communities,” because of this, “changes to public policies and practices must be part of the solution.”

*The 2021 figures have been updated to reflect the U.S Census Bureau’s April 2023 revisions to retail sales; therefore, losses differ from what was reported in the 2022 NRSS.

About the NRSS

The 2023 National Retail Security Survey was conducted online by senior loss prevention and security executives in the retail industry. This year’s results contain insights from 177 retail brands, which accounted for $1.6 trillion of annual retail sales in 2022, and represent more than 97,000 retail locations across the United States. The study was done in partnership with the Loss Prevention Research Council and is sponsored by Appriss Retail. Click here to view the report.

About the NRF
The National Retail Federation passionately advocates for the people, brands, policies and ideas that help retail thrive. From its headquarters in Washington, D.C., NRF empowers the industry that powers the economy. Retail is the nation’s largest private-sector employer, contributing $3.9 trillion to annual GDP and supporting one in four U.S. jobs – 52 million working Americans. For over a century, NRF has been a voice for every retailer and every retail job, educating, inspiring and communicating the powerful impact retail has on local communities and global economies.

About the LPRC
The Loss Prevention Research Council was founded in 2000 by leading retailers and Dr. Read Hayes, an NRSS co-founder, in an effort to support the evidence-based needs of loss prevention decision-makers. To date, the LPRC has conducted over 300 studies with retailers and other research partners. The LPRC strives to provide comprehensive research and development opportunities, and collaborative spaces for members that enable the innovation of retail loss and crime control solutions.

LPRC and ISCPO Partnership Press Release:

With disruptions causing over $4 trillion dollars in profit loss according to Reuters, supply chain challenges continue to affect retailers, manufacturers, and other logistics companies alike. Strategic partnerships and collaboration are needed to ensure the maximum safety & efficiency during these demanding times.

As of January 10th, 2022, the LPRC and ISCPO have drawn up a partnership in the spirit of collaboration to cultivate a Supply Chain Community for both organization’s members and the overall supply chain industry.

The Loss Prevention Research Council (LPRC), a twenty-two-year-old industry leading research organization that collaborates with over 70 retail member organizations, 80 protective solution companies, law enforcement, industry partners, and academic leaders, for the goal of providing evidence-based solutions addressing loss, safety, and fraud prevention, and the International Supply Chain Protection Organization (ISCPO), a non-profit professional association that connects members from a wide array of sectors across the global supply chain including retail, wholesale, eCommerce, manufacturing, insurance, risk management/legal, distribution, operations, and logistics, as well as, law enforcement and government agencies, established to promote collaborative efforts of networking, benchmarking and resource development for security and asset protection professionals across the global supply chain, have decided to enter into a partnership to maximize the value of both organizations and the industry at large.

Both the LPRC and ISCPO each bring tremendous value to this new endeavor. With natural disasters, workplace violence, and many other supply chain logistical issues at the forefront of industry concerns; the LPRC/ISCPO partnership is ready to combat these issues by mobilizing their communities to identify, research, and address these acute and chronic issues. Now with a joint Supply Chain Protection Working Group, industry leaders and solution providers, will continue to have monthly engagements to help work through a variety of industry issues, and come together to research specific concerns and solutions.

The LPRC and the ISCPO are both proud and excited to enter this partnership and to embark on a journey to bring mitigation strategies, problem solving solutions & research to the supply chain industry as a whole.

Should you have any questions about this partnership please feel free to reach out to:

Rhett Asher – ISCPO President & Chairman


Diego Rodriguez – LPRC Supply Chain Protection Working Group Facilitator & LPRC Representative


Retail Crime Can Be Dangerous and Intimidating.

Retail stores are a vital part of any community. They conveniently and quickly provide the goods local people want and need. And shops are places where residents work and build their careers. Finally, stores also provide entertainment and can be a welcome diversion for busy, stressed citizens.

But ongoing thefts and looting intimidates workers, shoppers, and their loved ones while boosting fear of criminal victimization and the resulting avoidance behavior. Store thefts can result in Injury and worse, as well as strip stores of desirable goods local citizens seek forcing them to look elsewhere for better, safer shopping options.


No individual store or even chain can flourish alone in this climate of increasing crime victimization and lower consequences for those that harm others where they work and shop. Retailers are working together to build stronger, science-based cross-company, local policymaker, and law enforcement partnerships at the individual retail center and market levels in part via the Loss Prevention Research Council (LPRC).

Over 70 US retail companies work together with 80 protective solution companies and PhD-level research scientists on anti-crime community engagement and technological solutions via Gainesville, FL based Loss Prevention Research Council. LPRC’s Director and University of Florida Research Scientist/Criminologist Read Hayes, PhD works with a team of eight to support retailers as they deal with theft, fraud, and violence across their stores and supply chain using data analytics, randomized field experiments, offender interviews, a series of simulated retail environment labs, and other scientific methods.

What and How

The LPRC team is available to discuss retail crime dynamics, and group and individual crime reduction strategies and tactics at:

LPRC’s Working Group Awards are given to leaders and co-leaders who demonstrate strong participation, maintain a positive and interesting call environment, and whose deliverables affect a cross-section of retail formats.​ Their commitment and dedication improves our research and results community, and for that we are grateful. The LPRC is pleased to announce the 2019 Working Group Award Recipients:


Retail Fraud Working Group

  • Leader(s): Trish Svebek, Dollar General
  • Co-leader(s): Sean O’Brien, Target / James Kendall, Target

Organized Retail Crime Working Group

  • Leader(s):  Jessica Zwart, Target / Bobby Haskins, Auror
  • Co –Leader(s): Ben Dugan, CVS / Abe Gonzalez, Bloomingdale’s

Product Protection Working Group:

  • Leader(s): Adam Hartway, InComm/ Scott Ziter, Price Chopper
  • Co –Leader(s): Andrea Guthrie, Dick’s/ Jeremy Henderson, TJX


The LPRC Fellowship Award is given to those that exceed expectations through high-level performance and dedication on working groups or projects.​ We are proud to recognize these individuals for their participation in the LPRC. Our research and results community is made better by their contributions.

2019 LPRC Fellowship Award Recipients

Krista Monnin

Procter & Gamble

Basia Pietrawska

CAP Index

Tom Arigi


The LPRC is proud to announce its newest Board Members. The LPRC’s Board of Advisors champions the longevity of research-based decision-making through collaboration, advice and support to the Loss Prevention Research Council’s Director’s mission. Please join us in congratulating the following individuals:

LPRC Board of Advisors

Peter Chie

Peter Chie is the Operating Vice President of Asset Protection and Risk Management for Bloomingdale’s based in NYC. He is responsible for all physical security, crisis management, business resiliency and investigations for the organization. His experience in the retail loss prevention industry spans over 30 years in field, corporate and distribution positions at several Fortune 500 companies, both big box and specialty. He is a former Chair for the Lehigh Valley Chapter of ASIS, a member of the ASIS Retail Asset Protection Council, and a member of the NRF Loss Prevention Advisory Council.

Tim Hall

Tim Hall is the Director of Asset Protection at 7-Eleven. In his 20 year career at 7-Eleven, Tim has held various leadership roles in Operations and Asset Protection. Tim is a highly experienced Asset Protection professional who has demonstrated the ability to lead diverse teams of professionals in 12 regions across US and Canada. Tim has strong technical and business qualifications with a proven track record of hands-on experience in strategic planning, business unit development, team development and project management. Tim is currently working towards earning his Bachelor degree in Business at the University of Phoenix.

Chris Hackler

Chris Hackler is the Vice President of Global Asset Protection for Signet Jewelers. Chris has over 30 years of experience in Loss Prevention. She has held a variety of positions including Store Manager, Regional Inventory Analyst, Director of Asset Protection, Director of Physical Inventory and Risk Management, Senior Director of Physical Security and Senior Director of Loss Prevention. Chris holds a Bachelor of Business Administration Degree with Minors in Accounting and Psychology.

Tony D’Onofrio

Tony D’Onofrio is currently CEO of TD Insights, a consultancy focused on working with private equity companies, board of directors, public speaking, industry groups, and advanced technologies companies. Previously, Tony was Chief Customer Officer (CCO) at Tyco Retail Solutions (now Sensormatic), part of Johnson Controls. At Sensormatic, he managed global customer relationships, marketing, source tagging, and transitioning key security solutions into “as a service” models. Tony is a graduate of Case Western Reserve University (BA) and Cleveland State University (MBA).

Eric Williams

Eric Williams, CFI, CORCI, is the Senior Manager of Loss Prevention with City Gear.  Based in Memphis, TN, Eric has the responsibility of managing all aspects of Loss Prevention for over 140 stores. He is a Certified Forensic Interviewer (CFI) and a Certified Organized Retail Crime Investigator (CORCI). Eric is also certified in Wicklander-Zulaski and Reid and Associates. He’s been an active member of LPRC since 2016, particularly in the Violent Crime Working Group.


Thank you to all of our Board Members!


What is the significance of IMPACT to Hedgie and his team? Find out in our latest video! Everyone experiences IMPACT differently: each attendee carries their own unique goals and objectives to our two-day event. But the unifying factor of collaboration ties our research & results community together each year. Register for IMPACT 2019. 

Mike currently leads the LPRC Research team, working with Director Dr. Read Hayes to shape, manage, and execute the LPRC’s yearly research load. He writes a monthly column for LP Magazine, and has been featured on Fox News, ABC News, and in depth on Fox Network.

  1. We would love some background on your education. What did you study in college (what was your major)?

     Sure! I was a psych major in undergrad at SUNY Buffalo, which it turns out means grad school is almost mandatory to land a great job. My sister was at Cornell 2 hours away working with some awesome professors studying marketing and consumer behavior. I got an internship there, and I haven’t left a research lab since!

  2. When did you discover you had an interest in research?

    I think future research scientists make the most annoying children on earth. “Why is that the way it is? Yeah but how does it work? Yeah but what if you took this part away, would it still work? Yeah but? Yeah but?” Sorry mom and dad.   

  3. How have your previous work experiences shaped you and your transition into your current role?

    A typical academic research lab does a fantastic job of training you to form great research questions, come up with great plans for studying those questions, and analyze and interpret the results. The business world, including retail, does a fantastic job of challenging you to make sure your research questions matter to more than a handful of people, and to transform your results in to actionable insights. 

  4. Loss prevention is a hot topic largely because theft is so prominent, especially for large retailers.  How would you say you approach your research with this in mind?

    It’s actually really interesting how the general public views shoplifting. If I ask people to close their eyes and picture someone stealing from a store, they’ll probably picture a poor person stealing a loaf of bread, or a young kid stealing a pack of gum. What’s the big deal, right? Why are retailers getting so worked up? They picture Aladdin, not Tony Soprano. Understanding and reacting to that public perception is hugely important for our retailers.

  5. What do you love most about your job?

    I see a lot of people my age that are doing cool things, but what they’re working on doesn’t have anywhere near the amount of exposure that my ideas do. If I come up with an interesting study, I get to run it and share the results with hundreds of people. It’s really cool to know that my ideas and contributions are being put to real world use.

  6. Have you ever had a surprising finding? If so, how did it change the way you approached data and future research strategies?

    All the time. One of the most important reasons that research is so vital to AP is because we’re trying to understand the behavior of a population we don’t belong to. Offenders will routinely share a perspective on an LP deterrent with me that I wouldn’t have thought of in 1000 years. They’ll think a hole in a tag is a camera. They’ll show me how to pop a so-called “unbreakable” clasp open in seconds. There’s an incredible wealth of information that they have to offer us, albeit often hidden in a sea of not-so-useful ramblings, brags, and curse-word-laiden hot takes on global politics and economics 

  7. Where do you think the loss prevention industry is headed? What factors do you believe are/ will be influencing those changes?

    I think big data and smarter analytics are going to completely change the game on us knowing when a bad person walks in to a store and is up to no good. However, I also think retailers will increasingly value customer experience over preventing theft, effectively handcuffing the LP team. Benefit denial technologies and technologies that serve the overall business as well as LP (i.e. inventory control, personal data for customer experience) have the surest future in our field.