Over the past decade, much has changed in loss prevention. As we look back at the transformation that has occurred...even to this magazine...we see a history of evolution in process and technology as well as an evolution in criminal activity.
Ten years ago we didn't hear much about "organized retail crime." Now, ORC is a common acronym in the industry as it is increasingly in the popular press. Sure, ten years ago ORC existed, but LP professionals didn't classify it that way. More often it was discussed as a type of "professional shoplifter."
However, both then and now, retailers have banded together in a variety of ways to try to prevent these and other losses. Ten years ago retailers would get together in geographic pockets, behind closed doors, and share information via spreadsheets and photos. They created a network of fax machines and call lists to share information and "be on the lookout" for certain persons or types of crime. Over the years we began to put definition to these terms, identify these organized groups, and expand on these regional efforts combining forces as an industry to combat the criminal element.
The First Steps of Data Sharing
Part of this evolution included the creation of a national database for sharing information on retail crime. The Law Enforcement Retail Partnership Network (LERPnet) is a secure national database for the reporting of retail theft and serious incidents that allows retailers to share information with each other and with law enforcement. The concept of LERPnet was a recent evolution in the process and technology available within the field of loss prevention. The days of closed-door regional meetings and fax alerts had evolved to several broader, industry-wide electronic database initiatives, capitalizing on the technology available to retailers in collecting and sharing information.
Over the past decade the retail associations had each launched and supported separate initiatives. The Retail Industry Leaders Association's (RILA) InfoShare and the National Retail Federation's (NRF) REALPIN data-sharing initiatives were ultimately brought together to create one central, national data share called LERPnet. The concept was strong and the need even stronger, but the technology and capabilities of LERPnet struggled to keep up with the advancements in available technology as well as the needs of the retailers.
The associations recognized the concept was still solid, but needed to expand on the technology platform. Working with the FBI, the associations, including the Food Marketing Institute (FMI), banded together to support taking LERPnet in a new direction with a new technology platform designed with features and functionality to support the specific needs of this initiative. The evolution in the underlying technology designed to take this very important initiative to the next level is called LERPnet2.0.