EBay, NRF to take on organized retail crime

SAN FRANCISCO Mon Mar 22, 2010 1:16pm EDT

A pedestrian walks at the headquarters of eBay in San Jose, California February 25, 2010. REUTERS/Robert Galbraith

A pedestrian walks at the headquarters of eBay in San Jose, California February 25, 2010.

Credit: Reuters/Robert Galbraith

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SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - EBay Inc and the National Retail Federation, the trade group for the retail industry, said on Monday they have teamed to combat organized retail crime.

The partnership, which will receive support from the Federal Bureau of Investigation, aims to help law enforcement in criminal probes and to prevent crimes in which goods are stolen from brick-and-mortar stores and then resold online.

Retail theft, dubbed "shrink" by the industry, reached nearly $115 billion globally last year, according to a report released in November from the UK-based Center for Retail Research and Checkpoint Systems.

While part of the loss comes from shoplifting by the public and theft by employees, the dent from organized retail crime can be even greater, as goods are stolen in bulk.

According to a 2009 NRF study, 92 percent of retailers complained of organized retail crime in the past year. Some 73 percent said the level of such crime had risen.

EBay, a vast e-commerce marketplace where buyers and sellers connect, has long striven to ensure that brands sold on its site are legitimate and that posts from sellers peddling counterfeit goods are quickly removed.

Still, brands complain that stolen goods easily make their way to the Internet, where their origins are more difficult to track.

EBay and the NRF said representatives from their groups would meet on a regular basis to brainstorm the best ways to prevent organized retail crime, while using new technology to identify and track crime rings.

They said they will collaborate with the FBI to help identify crime rings responsible for stealing merchandise in bulk and work together on legislation to strengthen resources for federal law enforcement and enhance penalties for crimes.

(Reporting by Alexandria Sage, editing by Matthew Lewis)

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