LP Magazine

MAY-JUN 2018

LP magazine publishes articles for loss prevention, asset protection, and retail professionals covering shrinkage, investigations, shoplifting, internal theft, fraud, technology, best practices, and career development.

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RETAIL CRIME IN LOS ANGELES "Crime is up." "How should I protect my employees and customers from increasing violence?" "More and more shoplifting incidents escalate into physical assaults." C omments or questions of this nature have certainly increased in frequency within the retail environment in the past two years or so. Is it just retail though? Certainly not. I have encountered similar statements in my work with the banking, restaurant, and other industries. We may not get to the bottom of all of this until experts study the situation in retrospect. The one thing we can do now is better understand the nature of these new trends and how different areas of the country are affected. Most importantly, how are your stores affected? Let's start with a nationwide perspective. The Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) reported upward trends in violent crimes in the United States in 2015 and 2016, following many years of declining patterns. Property crimes, on the other hand, continued to decline at the nationwide level. A closer look at some of the regional statistics shows that these trends vary fairly significantly across the country. For instance, the District of Columbia was subject to an 8.6 percent increase in larceny-theft even though the FBI reported an overall decrease for the nation. While law enforcement trends began to emerge, media reports sounded the alarm about crime increases for many cities across the country. Some reports were supported by factual information, but many were somewhat sensationalized and often misleading. What does all this mean? Well, the results are mixed. It is not clear that we have reached a floor and that crime rates are heading back up nationwide. It is important to examine local and regional trends to determine exactly what is going on. It does seem clear, though, that the old, decades-long narrative of endlessly falling crime rates may need to be updated. Fiction versus Fact: A Closer Look at Data In addition to changing crime trends, new crime-reporting practices have emerged. Police departments began making more comprehensive crime statistics available to the public. Chicago, Baltimore, and Houston are just some examples of agencies that provide access to impressive data portals. They are shifting from displaying aggregate information for a city or a district to providing address-specific data. Incident date, time, precise crime designation, and even premises-type information are becoming increasingly available. Some of it can be accessed through online portals, while one must submit an official data request in other jurisdictions. It is important for the retail industry to take advantage of this information and conduct address-specific and retail-specific assessments. Each issue within this series will examine a different city, and the individual analyses will be customized to data available for that location. The goal is to provide you with information that will allow for informed benchmarking of crime at your stores against what your peers may be experiencing. Why Los Angeles? Los Angeles, the second-most populous city in the United States, has been the subject of many conversations among retailers, with many concerned about recent upward crime trends. Proposition 47, an initiative that reduced certain felonies to misdemeanors, is often mentioned in the context of these debates. It was passed in California in November 2014 and, according to many, resulted in unintended, negative consequences. This article looks at retail crime trends before and after the institution of Proposition 47, but there are a multitude of factors at play. We cannot make a definitive causal determination of Proposition 47's impact. The Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) is one of the agencies that has made comprehensive, site-specific crime statistics available to the public, and that is another reason why that particular city in California was chosen to open this series of assessments. CAP Index's analytics team obtained 2011–2017 LAPD crime data from an online portal. Premises-type information allowed crimes reported at retail locations, including department stores, gas stations, and liquor stores, to be Proposition 47 Proposition 47, the ballot initiative passed by California voters on November 4, 2014, reduces certain drug possession felonies to misdemeanors. It also requires misdemeanor sentencing for petty theft, receiving stolen property, and forging/writing bad checks when the amount involved is $950 or less. (Source: cdcr.ca.gov/news) 52 MAY–JUNE 2018 | LOSSPREVENTIONMEDIA.COM

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