Mega-retailer Target is teaming up with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to combat shoplifting after the company reported it will have to close multiple stores.
Target notified customers of its new partnership with law enforcement in an announcement about the closure of nine stores that have suffered major losses because of retail theft.
The company said it “cannot continue operating these stores because theft and organized retail crime are threatening the safety of our team and guests, as well as contributing to unsustainable business performance. We know that our stores serve an important role in their communities, but we can only be successful if the working and shopping environment is safe for all.”
For the stores that remain open, Target says it will make “significant investments in cyber defense” and partner with the DHS’s Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) division to combat retail theft.
Last year, retail crimes cost businesses nearly $100 billion, with losses for this year projected to be even higher.
Target’s losses are expected to exceed $1.2 billion for this fiscal year.
After merchandise is stolen from a store, it is often sold online for profit. In some cases, organized theft rings are facilitated by Mexican drug cartels, who sell the products online and launder the funds through Chinese brokers and send money back to the cartels.
HSI, which has more than 8,700 employees and 6,000 special agents operating in over 250 offices across the U.S., has been in partnership with other agencies and organizations to combat this type of shoplifting.
“Organized retail crime is leading to more brazen, more violent attacks in retail stores throughout the country and many of the criminal rings orchestrating these thefts are also involved in other serious criminal activity,” said HSI’s acting executive associate director Steve Francis. “Tackling this growing threat is important to the safety of store employees, customers, and communities across the country.”
Part of Target’s new strategy is to support legislation aimed at combatting the second-hand sale of stolen goods (the INFORM Consumers Act), and the Combatting Organized Retail Crime Act, which creates a Taskforce of federal agencies to crack down on retail crime.
The company is also creating task forces with state and local officials, as well as hosting store walks with federal, state and local officials to educate them on efforts to stop retail crime and to explore workable solutions.