Where do shoplifting rings sell their stolen goods?

Where do shoplifting rings sell their stolen goods?

By Greg Collier

You may have seen some stores in the news lately about shoplifting rings. In these recent stories, a large number of people enter a store all at once and grab as much stuff as they can. The reasoning behind this kind of theft is that the store security can’t possibly stop everyone. While these incidents have been largely successful for the thieves, this is not how retail theft rings normally operate.

In most cases, there is a ringleader who will employ a team of shoplifters. Often these shoplifters are people with substance abuse issues who are paid in drugs. They’ll walk into a big box store like Walmart or Home Depot and walk out with high dollar items like it was child’s play. The ringleader will then sell the stolen merchandise at below-market value and still make a handsome profit.

In the pre-digital world, these goods would be sold out of the back of a truck, or a back alley, or even the back of a store. The problem then was that you had to be in the know to be able to buy the stolen goods. Now, these stolen goods are sold on several digital platforms, but one platform seems to attract more stolen goods than the others. While eBay and craigslist used to be popular for selling stolen goods, they’ve both fallen out of favor. According to a report from NBC News, Facebook Marketplace is now the go-to place for stolen goods to be sold.

The reason behind Marketplace’s popularity among retail theft rings is that Facebook is slow to respond to law enforcement requests, if they respond at all. This has caused investigations into these rings to come to a grinding halt while police wait on a response from Facebook. Since many retail theft rings travel around the country, time is often of the essence for law enforcement.

Industry experts seem to think that Facebook isn’t responding in a timely manner because Marketplace’s oversight hasn’t kept up with its growth.

Many think that this is a victimless crime. They think that the retailers are insured against this kind of loss, so who is it hurting? For one, the shoplifters themselves as the ringleaders are keeping them in a cycle of substance abuse. The people buying the stolen goods can also be held criminally responsible. It some jurisdictions, even if you buy stolen merchandise unknowingly, you could still face criminal charges. If prosecutors believe that if the buyer should have had reasonable suspicion that the goods were stolen, the buyer could face legal repercussions.

Just because Marketplace is owned by a multi-billion dollar corporation, if it’s not being monitored, it’s no safer than craigslist.