Top 5 Cities for Retail Theft in the USA

Retail theft is a growing problem across the country, but five cities in particular are seeing an increase in retail crime, according to a report from the National Retail Federation (NRF).

Los Angeles was the city with the highest retail crime rate, while San Francisco and Houston were the next two. New York City and Seattle rounded out the top five.

Retail crime is a growing problem in the U.S., accounting for $112.1 billion in losses last year, up from $93.9 billion in 2021, according to NRF.

The National Retail Security Survey’s new total retail crime list collected data from 177 retail brands across 28 sectors. It defined theft as any act “performed with the intent to convert illegally obtained goods, cash, cargo or cash equivalents into financial gain, typically through their online or offline sales.”

People leave a Target store in the Harlem neighborhood of Manhattan in New York City on September 28, 2023. Citing theft and organized retail crime, the retail giant announced it would close its East Harlem location next month along with eight other stores across the country. Many retail chains have experienced an increase in mass thefts in recent years, resulting in injuries to staff and the need to lock up many products.
Spencer Platt/Getty Images

This year, 78 percent of companies said organized retail crime was a greater priority than in 2022, but the severity of the problem was largely determined by location.

According to Melodie van der Baan, CEO and co-founder of Inventory Selling, the cities with the highest rates of retail theft tend to be those with higher overall populations and higher crime rates, but it also reflects the need for local authorities to enforce tougher consequences on a platform Max Retail.

“Local governance is an important reason for the increase in shoplifting in certain regions,” said van der Baan Newsweek. “If the impact of such crimes is low in a particular area, the perpetrators will continue to operate in those cities.”

Additionally, store employees are encouraged not to interfere with a theft, even if it is happening right in front of them, as there is a risk of physical injury or legal harm to the company, which will result in more thieves getting away with their crimes .

Impact of retail crime

Rising retail crime has caused several chains to close stores or raise prices due to lost inventory. It also poses an increased risk for retail workers, who are exposed to some of the theft and violence.

“Retailers are experiencing unprecedented levels of theft coupled with rampant crime in their stores, and the situation is only getting worse,” David Johnston, vice president of asset protection and retail operations for the National Retail Federation, said in a statement. “Beyond the financial impact of these crimes, violence and safety concerns continue to be a priority for all retailers, regardless of size or category.”

Target announced the closure of nine stores due to skyrocketing levels of shoplifting.

“We cannot continue to operate these stores because theft and organized retail crime threaten the safety of our team and guests and contribute to unsustainable business performance,” Target previously said in a statement on Sept. 26.

Walmart faced similar problems and decided to close four stores in Chicago. The company’s CEO also warned that prices could rise as inventory disappears.

“If this is not corrected over time, prices will rise and/or businesses will close,” Doug McMillon said of crime rates in a CNBC interview last year.

Walmart has closed 21 stores in 12 states as crime continues to plague the stores.

Although the rise in crime has been particularly evident in recent years, it ultimately affects companies’ ability to predict this behavior and still remain profitable.

Retailers that focus on high margins and inventory optimization will ultimately thrive, even if crime rates remain high.

“Theft is a crime as old as time,” van der Baan said. “It is the retailer’s responsibility to predict shrink. He can mitigate it through solid management and processes at the branch level.”