In my position as a Retail Loss Prevention Manager I frequently had concerns about Organized Retail Crime activity in our area. I met with Loss Prevention Managers from other retailers and police to discuss the trends I was seeing and we shared information to try to identify those involved. My biggest concerns were in our health and beauty departments and electronics department. Though we sold some wine I never considered that alcohol would be targeted by professional shoplifters. I assumed that those stealing wine and spirits were doing so for a single bottle or two. Little did I realize until I did some research that alcohol IS a target of professional criminals and there is a black market for the product. It makes me wonder why more liquor stores and grocery stores that sell alcohol are not using some type of bottle security such as bottle locks on their merchandise.
Bottle locks come in a variety of styles and sizes to fit nearly any bottle on the market. These locks have built in radio frequency (RF) Electronic Article Surveillance (EAS) technology that cause an EAS antenna alarm to sound when a bottle with a lock is brought in range of the antenna. The locks are built for maximum efficiency making it nearly impossible to tamper with the device to force it off. If an attempt to force a lock off the top of a bottle is made, the likely result will be a broken bottle and liquor on the floor. Bottle security doesn’t have to consist of hiding all the merchandise behind locking cases, requiring an employee to retrieve every single bottle.
What are Organized Retail Crime organizations doing with all this alcohol they are stealing? They resell the merchandise to small liquor store and bar owners who then save on the cost from a legitimate supplier and use the stolen merchandise to sell in their patron’s drinks. Below are just a few of the examples I have come across to validate my point:
• Chicago.suntimes.com dated 3/3/2016 headline “Three arrested for stealing stolen liquor at Humboldt Park store”. The story by Ashlee Rezin reports that, “Three men have been arrested for selling stolen merchandise, including more than 100 bottles of high-end alcohol at a Humboldt Park neighborhood store…”
• Patch.com dated 9/13/2015 headline “Buffalo Grove Convenience Store Owner Charged With Selling Stolen Liquor”. In the story by Amie Schaenzer, the owner of the store in Buffalo Grove, Illinois was accused of buying stolen bottles of liquor at one store he owned and selling it at another store he owned.
• 8/4/2014 citypaper.com writer Edward Ericson, Jr. reported on a case on March 16th in which a liquor store owner was charged with stealing less than $1,000 worth of Hennessy after buying it from an unauthorized distributor and failing to pay the proper state tax. According to the report a half million dollar shipment of Hennessy cognac had been stolen from a tractor trailer.
How big a problem is Organized Retail Theft in the United States? According to the National Retail Federation 2014 Organized Retail Crime Survey, Organized Retail Crime is a $30 billion dollar a year problem. It is important for even small business owners to use liquor bottle security to keep merchandise from walking out the door.
Stores can protect wine and spirits with bottle locks and allow their customers the freedom to look at a bottle and handle it without concern for sending someone to open a case. Customer service will continue to excel because shoppers can move about with merchandise and not feel rushed to make a decision, because they don’t have an employee waiting to walk away. Bottle locks can be a big win for customer service and a driver for profitable sales.
Get more information on bottle locks, contact us or call 1.866.914.2567 today.