Shoplifting – a growth industry? Razors, Aveeno lotion, Revlon nail polish, Tide detergent, and Scunci rhinestone hair clips were the spoils of a eight person shoplifting ring based out of Austin, Texas. The ring stole $50,000 worth of goods over the past year, most of them basic household items, from stores in the Austin area. The ring leader, Maria Patricia Villegas, commissioned accomplices to steal from stores like Target and grocery chain H-E-B, paying them cash for the products. She would then resell the goods at local flea markets and smuggle them to Mexico for resale.

Villegas’s ring isn’t unique. In Tampa Bay, Florida, a ring of thieves recently took Crest white strips and Rogaine from Target stores for resale. In Seattle it was razor blades, batteries and cheap perfume that they wanted. In Prince George County, Maryland, police seized $125,000 worth of merchandise at a barber shop, including the ubiquitous Tide detergent. Some shoplifting rings have gone as far as to target groceries. Earlier this year also in Austin, police busted a meat theft ring that stole from grocer H-E-B, taking prime cuts of beef that they would resell to local restaurants. Organized retail crime is on the rise, according to the National Retail Federation. In its annual survey on the subject in June 2011, the Federation found that 94.5 percent of retailers had been targeted by shoplifting rings in the year prior. Nearly 85 percent of the companies also believed that organized theft was on the rise overall.

So yes, shoplifting is a growth industry. It is just one more sign that the disintegration of society is occurring brought on by the current economic crisis. With local government authority’s budgets continuing to contract, police will be come more and more powerless. Besides, they are too busy fighting domestic terrorists, spying on law abiding citizens and fighting the continuing citizens protests of our current economic system. One more reason to not be too positive on any economic solutions coming soon.

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Bluepoint daily market view – April 11, 2012

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