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SAN DIEGO, Calif. -- The National Retail Federation is gearing up to launch a new network that will enable retailers to share data about organized retail crime with each other and with law enforcement agencies, said the NRF during its annual Loss Prevention conference here this week.
The first phase of the Retail Loss Prevention Intelligence Network (RLPIN) will provide a secure Web portal with text data entry capability and the ability to append photographs. Test groups will end by July, and the system should be available to all retail sectors by early August, according to Joe LaRocca, NRF's v.p. of loss prevention.
"Like the National Crime Information Center, the RLPIN system will take incidents that retailers experience and allow law enforcement, as well as other retailers, to identify trends by geographic market or by a particular type of incident," said LaRocca, in an interview with Progressive Grocer. [Progressive Grocer magazine will provide more detail on NRF's new system, as well as other current and future major loss prevention strategies, in the cover story of the August 1 edition.]
"Whether you're talking about organized retail theft (ORT), burglaries, credit card theft, or other crimes, this will help retailers connect in a different way, while helping law enforcement nail down specific facts about cases," LaRocca said of the new network.
To ensure confidentiality, the network will have a raft of features designed to protect proprietary information. Phase One will offer control of visibility by incident, which means that if you report something, you decide who gets to see it. A jewelry store, for example, might want to make information of an incident available only to other jewelry stores. Some retailers may want to make information available only to law enforcement.
LaRocca explained the rationale behind the creation of the network during a general session at the NRF conference. Because there has been no such repository of information on crime affecting retailers, organized crime rings have been able to operate under the radar of law enforcement, he noted. With RLPIN, it will be possible to determine that there's an organized retail crime ring working the Interstate 95 corridor, for example, and notify the FBI.
The RLPIN system will also provide incident reports, with as much detail as possible, which will be entered into a retail-crime database that will serve as a tool for investigative analysis. Called Deep View, this database will be queried to the greatest extent possible by menus, pointers, buttons, and other shortcuts.
Deep View users will be able to obtain not only regional and behavior pattern data on individuals reported on to the system, but addresses, phone numbers -- even computer screen names. The network will be able to monitor "gray market" fences, and such retail auction sites as eBay.
Cost for access to RLPIN will be about $1,200 per year for the basic service, and about $3,600 for access to Deep View. Users will be added systematically so as not to overwhelm the system or flood it with untrained users. More information is available at www.LPInformation.com.
-- Jenny McTaggart