Crime Risk to Business 2023
October 25, 2023
Communities and businesses across the U.S. are facing a historic increase in crime, an alarming trend requiring a robust response. The rising crime problem is affecting both small businesses and large retailers and warrants a serious response from policymakers.
A new report from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce highlights the surge in retail and related crime and commends progress in the fight while outlining needed policy actions from local, state, and national lawmakers.
“The scourge of organized retail crime has become increasingly pervasive, with retailer losses driven by retail crime totaling nearly $100 billion dollars last year," said Tom Wickham, the Chamber's senior vice president of State & Local Policy. "No store should have to close because of theft, but we are sadly seeing more stores – particular smaller ones – shuttering their doors because of theft and other crime in their neighborhoods.”
The report, “Crime Risk to Business 2023,” includes a new survey of corporate documents from January through August 2023 that show mentions of organized retail crime by companies listed on the S&P 500 already surpass those recorded last year by 43%.
An earlier U.S. Chamber of Commerce survey of small businesses found that as many as 56% of small businesses reported theft, with 53% of small businesses saying that the problem has gotten worse. At the aggregate level, the National Retail Federation (NRF) reports that as much as $100 billion has been lost to general crime, or shrink, in the past year, and that organized retail crime—or crime perpetrated by organized criminal rings—continues to rise, with 26.5% of businesses reporting an increase in organized retail theft.
Our Chief Policy Officer Weighs In: Rising Crime Affects Everyone
In a March 2022 letter from the Chamber to federal and state officials, the Chamber declared organized retail crime to be a national crisis, calling upon policymakers to take specific actions to help businesses fight crime.
Since then, progress in the fight against organized retail theft has included:
- Passage of the INFORM Act, which combats the online sale of stolen, counterfeit, and dangerous consumer products by ensuring transparency in online retail marketplaces, with the law taking effect in June this year.
- States fighting back, with twelve states having created new statutes, revised existing statutes, or created enhanced penalties to allow for greater prosecution of organized retail crime. 19 state legislatures have also put new laws on the books to combat organized retail crime.
To build on this progress, the “Crime Risk to Business 2023” report urges:
- Increased public-private cooperation, specifically recommending that state officials and businesses should coordinate resources to combat criminal gangs.
- Lawmakers need to update their laws to allow prosecutors to aggregate multiple offenses across jurisdictions.
- Local prosecutors must aggressively prosecute crimes against businesses, and if they don’t, lawmakers should circumvent them or make it easy to remove them.
“As awareness around this issue grows, driven in part by Chamber efforts with the business community, civic organizations, and policymakers—we hope this new report will serve as a key resource as we all work together as effected stakeholders to combat this crime surge,” Wickham said.