August 24, 2021
Home Depot has come up with a creative and clever way to stop organized criminals from stealing tools from their shelves.
The home improvement chain has started stocking power tools that won’t work without first being activated via Bluetooth at checkout, according to Business intern. The tactic will allow Home Depot to continue selling the products without locking them behind cases and negatively impacting the legitimate shopping experience.
This decision specifically targets retail flight networks. These organized networks often recruit homeless people and other people living in poverty to steal products from stores, which are then sold online. These operations operate on such a scale that they are “ghost companies” that feed supply chains with stolen goods. Home Depot doesn’t expect criminals to try to defeat activation technology, instead expecting them to move on to something easier to steal.
Home improvement is not the only retail sector where organized theft has become a major problem.
“The National Retail Trade Federation (NRF)Retail Organized Crime Survey 2020“Ranks branded clothing as the most frequently targeted product for organized retail theft at 34%. Other frequently stolen items are laundry detergents (21%), razors (20%), designer handbags (16%), deodorants (15%) and laptops, pain relievers and top liquor. range at 13%.
Stores in specific regions have seen a marked increase in organized retail thefts. This year in San Francisco, Walgreens stores were targeted by criminal companies at a rate four times that of stores elsewhere. The theft has prompted Walgreens to close 17 stores in recent years.
Other retailers have also identified San Francisco as a problem area and have taken unprecedented action.
Target, for example, began closing stores in San Francisco early to avoid late-night shoplifting, ABC 7 reported. A 7-Eleven in the area has installed a metal door through which he conducts his business. Customers interested in buying something on-site should activate a buzzer to alert employees to their presence.
Criminal networks also put employees at risk, with thieves potentially attacking those who try to stop them.
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Do you see in-store activation at checkout as a good way to outsmart organized theft networks? Would the implementation of the technology used by Home Depot be feasible in products other than power tools?
“As long as a legitimate owner doesn’t have to worry about disabling their purchase or any impact on their ability to resell the item later, it makes a lot of sense.”