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Target’s Crime-Fighting Strategies

Retailer details its five-pronged approach to battling shrink.




Target’s Crime-Fighting Strategies
PHOTOGRAPHY: Alexander Farnsworth/

In announcing plans earlier this week to close nine stores in four states, Target gave a detailed explanation on why it was taking that action – and also what steps it is taking to combat theft and organized retail crime in an ongoing basis. Given the widespread nature of that problem (the NRF’s just-released retail security survey for 2023 shows crime accounted for more than $112 billion in industry losses in 2022 ), Target’s efforts are worth spelling out for other retailers.

Here’s Target’s five-pronged approach:

In stores:

  • Payroll investments in additional security team members, using third-party guard services and implementing theft-deterrent tools across its business.
  • On a limited basis, implementing tools such as locking cases for merchandise categories that are prone to theft.
  • Investing time and resources in training store leaders and security team members so they can protect themselves and de-escalate potential safety issues associated with organized retail crime incidents.

In technology:

  • Making significant investments in cyber defense to combat retail theft, fraud and abuse.
  • Partnering with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) division to combat retail theft.
  • Applying its cyber capabilities to combat organized retail crime through a combination of:
    • Advanced threat intelligence capabilities to track organized crime groups, tools and services.
    • Developing custom tools that prevent and detect criminal activity and integrating them into online and in-store processes.
    • Expanding the scope of data alerts and analysis to better capture fraudulent activity from organized crime groups.

“While we will continue to make meaningful investments throughout our business, we cannot solve this issue on our own,” the company said in a news release. “In addition, we are taking a whole of community, government, and industry approach to seek solutions. This includes:

In its communities:

  • The retailer’s Outreach Coordinator team connects guests experiencing hardship to community resources. Since launching in 2021, this program has engaged in over 5700 meaningful guest interactions across 11 markets, delivered nearly 100 trainings, and hosted or partnered on more than 135 events.

In coordination with government officials, lawmakers and law enforcement:

  • Supporting the recent passage of the INFORM Consumers Act, which gives marketplaces a larger role in combatting the second-hand sale of stolen goods.
  • Advocating for the Combating Organized Retail Crime Act in Congress, which creates a taskforce of federal agencies to crack down on theft and organized retail crime.
  • Creating Organized Retail Crime Task Forces at the state and local level to promote inter-agency efforts and cooperation.
  • Hosting store walks with members of Congress, state legislators, city officials, district attorneys, law enforcement and local community partners to educate on its efforts to combat retail theft and organized retail crime, and advocate for solutions and cooperation.

In coordination with industry partners:

  • Participating in National Store Walk Month, a new initiative in partnership with the Retail Industry Leaders Association (RILA) and the National District Attorneys Association (NDAA) that seeks to address the urgent issues of organized retail crime and theft and its impact on our communities.
  • Partnering with national and local retail industry associations such as RILA and the National Retail Federation to fund advocacy and educational efforts like the Vibrant Communities initiative.

Click here for the Target release detailing the above steps.



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