Retailers are experiencing serious theft issues with infant formula, leaving them with empty shelves and lost profits. It is also hurting those families who are in need of purchasing formula but finding shelves wiped out. There are two significant causes behind the losses. In part 1 I discussed the theft of formula by family members who may be financially strapped, have need of the product but don’t feel they have the resources to purchase the products. I was clear in my assertion that this does not justify shoplifting, especially with so many resources available, from government supplemental benefits to private charitable organizations. Whatever the reasons, some people still feel the “need” to steal and therefore merchants must protect infant formula from theft. The second major cause of theft of infant formula is Organized Retail Crime and the black market for stolen formula. It is this element I want to address in part 2 of this series and how Alpha Keepers can prevent shoplifting of infant formula by these criminals.
Infant formula Alpha Keepers are retail anti-theft devices designed specifically to protect canned powdered baby foods. The Keepers are solid, polycarbonate boxes with a locking hinged lid created to prevent shoplifting of baby formula. The box is see through so customers can see the merchandise and read all the important information they need regarding the product. In order to get to the contents, the Keeper has to be opened with a special detachment tool, usually maintained at the store point of sale. They are built to cause electronic article surveillance antennas to alarm when they come into the vicinity of the antenna, thereby deterring even the most determined of shoplifters. Unlike a display case, there is no wait time incurred by the customer who wants to purchase a can of formula but has to wait for an employee with a key to unlock the cabinet. This leads to increased sales for the store. Often customers will leave a store without making a purchase if they are forced to wait for service. Alpha Keepers prevent shoplifting while providing access to product for shoppers.
I mentioned there is another driving force behind the need to protect infant formula, and that is the threat from the black market. People are stealing infant formula and then selling it over the internet or they are selling to small “Mom and Pop” shops which pay for stolen merchandise at ridiculously low prices. Those stores resell it at a profit, though lower than the price in a larger retail establishment. In a report on wate.com, on 6/11/2015, “3 Knox County consignment shops raided for selling stolen baby formula; 5 people charged” the station reported on three businesses that were purchasing stolen baby formula and selling it on the black market. The lead investigator Captain George Edlund was interviewed and spoke of how the businesses were purchasing the stolen cans of formula valued at roughly $25-$40 on the retail market, paying $7-$8 a can and reselling it at about twice that price. The theft and resale on the black market makes it difficult for legitimate retailers to compete. It also supports criminal shoplifting activity. http://wate.com/2015/06/11/knox-county-deputies-hold-news-conference-at-wee-care-shop/
Even worse than the illicit resale market of infant formula is the possibility terrorists are being funded by Organized Retail Theft of the merchandise. In a 5/13/2014 report, “8 on Your Side: Baby formula rings may fund terrorist groups”, on 8LasVegasNow.com, writer Michelle Mortenson reported on how groups stealing infant formula are funneling money overseas to people or groups with possible links to terrorism. Quoting Organized Retail Theft Investigator Darin Fredrickson, “Some of the baby formula theft has funded terrorism efforts overseas”. Her report goes on to say, “In 2005, federal authorities busted a terrorist ring that was selling formula on the black market. The ring had potential links to HAMAS and Hezbollah.” http://www.lasvegasnow.com/news/8-on-your-side-baby-formula-rings-may-fund-terrorist-groups This isn’t simply a family trying to feed a child, this activity has life and death consequences and reinforces the need for stores to protect infant formula from shoplifting.
As a store owner your concern is to sell merchandise and do it profitably. The threats to your business are real. Whether it is Organized Retail Theft rings or small time shoplifters that are stealing, the theft of infant formula from your store can dramatically hurt profits. Use Alpha Keepers to prevent shoplifting and protect infant formula. Your store will benefit and who knows, so may the world.
Need information on Alpha Keepers? Give us a call at 1.770.426.0547.