Shop Talk

Retailers, consumers and prices

The legal way to buy stolen goods


GERMANY/Don’t let the headline fool you.  It is still illegal to buy stolen goods … unless you’re buying them from the police.

In the same way that eBay is the world’s virtual garage sale, a website called Property Room is trying to become the world’s virtual police auction.

Founded in 1999, the website has partnered with 1,600 law enforcement agencies around the country to sell unwanted or unclaimed recovered property.

Although the latest statistics from the U. S. Federal Bureau of Investigation show crime decreasing across the country, property crimes here, in Chicago, apparently rose 4 percent between 2007 and 2008–the latest numbers available.  From a wider view, the U.S. Department of Justice’s Bureau of Justice Statistics found that property crimes account for about 75 percent of all personal and property crimes committed in 2006.

The recession strikes again


jeans1The recession hammered U.S. holiday sales last year and new research suggests that it also drove up ”shrink” — a retail industry term for shoplifting, employee theft, and administrative errors.

An estimated $36.5 billion was lost to “shrink” in 2008, according to preliminary findings from the latest National Retail Security Survey released today.

Security cameras can “see” a lot more these days…


stoplift-sweethearting-retail-goodsSweethearting (v.) the act of a store employee giving a friend or family member free merchandise by pretending to scan items at the register or by ignoring items in shopping carts.

It is one of the oldest tricks in the book and a big problem for retailers. So big, in fact, that some estimates suggest that “sweethearting” and other types of employee theft account for almost half of all annual retail theft, or $19.5 billion out of $41.6 billion overall.