Retailers have been struggling to contain a wave of shoplifting that has escalated over the past two years.
Numerous luxury stores in posh areas like Beverly Hills have been forced to close their doors, as thieves have been stealing so much merchandise that stores can no longer remain profitable.
In some cases, law enforcement authorities have identified Mexican drug cartels as the culprits behind organized theft rings.
But, in others, as a recent report details, the popular Chinese-owned social media app TikTok has been fueling the retail theft wave.
TikTok users have been utilizing the platform to direct would-be thieves to stores that are easiest to steal from, specifically naming Walmart, Walgreens, and Dollar Tree.
TikTok-ers said the most difficult stores to rob are Target, Sephora, Gucci, and Louis Vuitton.
Using the hashtag “borrow tip and tricks” shoplifters were posting tutorials, teaching others how to commit retail theft.
Though the hashtag has now been banned from the platform, it has racked up 8.9 billion views.
Some individuals urged would-be shoplifters to begin small by stealing things like mascara and lip gloss, slipping the items into a sleeve or purse. Once in possession, the person was to “go to the bathroom and either take the item out of the box or wrap it in toilet paper” before taking the items out of the store.
People were also warned about looking for security cameras, as this action could make a thief look suspicious to store personnel.
Retail theft has become a major problem across the U.S, resulting in billions of dollars in losses.
Walmart recently announced it was closing four stores in Chicago stating that not only have the stores seen annual losses double over the past few years, but that they’ve never been profitable since they opened the first one 17 years ago. The retailer also said it was closing 23 stores nationwide amid a spike in theft.
Target also says it is closing four locations due to retail theft that have cost the chain more than $600 million in losses.
Police in Fairfax County, Virginia recently disrupted a retail theft group linked to more than $40,000 in stolen merchandise.
In Denver, police logged 1,222 retail theft incidents by Aug. 1, with 464 arrested.