A new crime-wave is hitting closer to home and this one will affect your pocketbook. Retail theft and fraud are on the rise. When losses are factored into retail prices that means you end up paying more for goods and services. From malls to Wal-Mart, shoppers to employees, shoplifting is on the rise. The most recent national retail security survey found that US retailers lost a record $41.6 billion last year due to retail theft and fraud in 2006. That's up 11 per cent from 2005. The survey looked at 139 retailers and found that the majority of the thieves were store employees. Employee theft accounted for close to $20 billion in retail theft – called shrinkage -- last year. That's nearly half of all the losses. Shoplifters stole $13 billion in goods, while administrative error and vendor fraud made up for the rest. Products most likely to disappear off store shelves are usually small and include cards, specialty accessories and grocery items. The study also found that organized retail crime was also a major culprit, with shoplifters taking large amounts of goods and then reselling them usually on websites. Honest shoppers won't be able to escape punishment. Retailers say product theft will force them to raise prices to pay their losses.
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