NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – According to the National Retail Federation, organized retail crime accounted for $112 billion in losses last year.
It’s happening everywhere all the time.
One of the more daring examples happened Friday, Sept. 29 at The Mall at Green Hills.
According to police, that’s where organized retail criminals hit the Gucci store, using pepper spray to add to the chaos and the confusion.
News 2 has obtained surveillance footage of the individuals in action. They were wearing masks and carrying as much merchandise as they could hold.
Reports indicate the trio, two men and a woman, rushed into the Gucci store. One of them allegedly distracted the employees while the other two grabbed handfuls of belts and duffel bags.
Before leaving with over $13,000 worth of merchandise, the thieves sprayed the store with pepper spray. In one of the images, you can see what appears to be a canister in a thief’s hand.
According to police, the thieves got into a blue Toyota Camry with extensive body damage to the driver’s side door.
Glenn Alred, president of Alert Mid-South, has seen the Gucci video: “It looked like total chaos for the employees and everyone involved, but it is not uncommon to see a group commit those crimes to come in and do exactly what they done, and more times than not now, they do use pepper spray to cause more chaos.”
Alert Mid-South is a group that shares intelligence between retail security and law enforcement.
“To me, it looked like they were very organized. They had a plan,” Alred added.
A similar crime happened on Sept. 14 at the Louis Vuitton store in the Mall at Green Hills. That’s where five people stole $40,000 worth of merchandise and assaulted two security officers.
Alred said many of these operations are connected: “We see a lot of groups coming out of Atlanta, Memphis, Chicago…coming to Nashville doing exactly what you seen.”
According to Alred, retail bandits like these stole $112 billion worth of merchandise across the country last year.
“The chances of them being caught or captured are slim, and the reward they have, it is pure profit. Where can you go and get 50 cents on the dollar? I mean $10,000? They made $5,000 dollars in 15 minutes. It is overwhelming. You have a shortage of law enforcement. The jails and the courts are packed and retailers are doing everything they can to combat it.”
Alred said the thieves often have a list of what to steal for clients who are ready to buy the hot merchandise.
The products are either delivered to those clients directly, sold on line, or sometimes moved at flea markets and mom and pop type sales outlets.
A Metro police report indicates the pepper spray caused $57,000 worth of damage to the other expensive Gucci merchandise inside the store. Nobody was injured.
Management at the Mall at Green Hills issued the following statement on the incident:
“The safety and security of our customers and employees is our top priority. Organized retail crime is a challenge all over the country right now and we know that our police, in partnership with malls and other retailers, are working diligently to bring this to an end in Nashville. To ensure an effective partnership with the local PD, we do not comment on ongoing police investigations, but we fully support and commend the efforts of the police.”