Organized retail crime case preparation and presentation are essential to building trust and partnership with all levels of law enforcement.
When investigating and documenting organized retail crime (ORC) cases it’s essential you take a professional approach. Case preparation and presentation need to be top priority when bringing your findings to law enforcement. Here are some tips for preparing and presenting to build trust and developing a relationship with local, state, and federal agencies.
The goal is to get multiple incidents in multiple different jurisdictions to reach the “felony theft threshold.”
Your investigation should be documented and kept in a binder or kept organized in a digital case management software program.
- Executive Summary – Outlining your investigation, laws violated, specific jurisdictions, number of people involved, verified identity of suspects, and vehicles involved.
- Incident Breakdown – Dates and times, a breakdown of all laws violated, video or pictures of suspects, and documented evidence like transaction information, credit card, debit card, or gift card information. Detailed incident breakdown (by date, time, county, state and financial losses).
- Excel (Financial) Spreadsheet – Detailed breakdown of financial losses (counties, states).
- Video Summary – Detailed breakdown by date of all video incidents involving suspects.
- Evidence Summary – Chain of custody and where evidence is being stored (photos).
- Conclusion – It’s essential you follow the process through the courts, insist on 100% prosecution, and have investigators in court for every court date. This approach also frees up law enforcement to have to appear and shows your 100% commitment to prosecution.
The goal is to get multiple incidents in multiple different jurisdictions to reach the “felony theft threshold.” Every state has determined a specific dollar amount that allows law enforcement to take out felony charges according to their “felony theft threshold,” which are much more serious crimes and have harsher penalties.
ORC suspects are habitual offenders and misdemeanor charges never seem to prevent them from continuing to shoplift or commit retail crime. Retail theft and fraud is lucrative, and many times the reward is far greater than the risk of getting caught and ever doing jail time.
- Compile – After you have compiled your evidence and have reached “Felony Theft” in multiple jurisdictions (county, state), it’s time to have it reviewed with your upper level LP/AP executives. They tend to look over your work to make sure it is clear, concise, and documented professionally and accurately. This is the time to discuss the best jurisdictions to file charges. You don’t always need to file charges in every jurisdiction in which you have incidents. You can sometimes use this as leverage when you get to court in recouping restitution.
- Schedule Presentation – Call the local, state, or federal agency you’re looking to bring the case to. Confirm date, time, and location of presentation.
- Prepare for Presentation – We all know these investigations take time and you need to refresh yourself on all incidents and events that took place. Doing this also helps you feel confident when speaking to law enforcement.
- Presentation Day – Meet with law enforcement. Dress professionally; show you’re prepared and that the company is committed to prosecution. Discuss potential charges, possible search warrants, and communication with police detectives should suspects come back in stores of jurisdictions where you plan to file charges.
- Follow-up/Communicate with Law Enforcement/Case Status – Your supervisors will likely require you to continue to get a status update with the agency you are working with. You’re working with law enforcement to take out criminal charges, so the company’s legal counsel will want to make sure things go as planned.
- Court – After charges are filed or suspects are arrested – be sure to get all court dates and be present at all hearings. Introduce yourself to the district attorneys (prosecutors). Let them know you will be at every court date, and should they need anything you will provide it ASAP. Professional attire is required in all court proceedings. Remember you are representing your company. It’s essential you are dressed professionally, organized, and found to be detailed oriented.
Preparing and presenting are key to building a level of trust with law enforcement. Once you show that you handle your investigations professionally and your evidence and work detail is exceptional and you always reach a successful conclusion, you will begin to establish a relationship and true partnership with multiple law enforcement agencies.
Christopher J. McGourty, Executive Director of NAORCA Worldwide
Christopher J. McGourty is the Founder and Executive Director of NAORCA Worldwide – The National Anti Organized Retail Crime Association. Christopher has 30 years in loss prevention, ORC investigations, and consulting and is currently pursuing his MS in Cybersecurity at Southern New Hampshire University.