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Organized Theft Groups and Organized Retail Crime

A comprehensive educational guide for law enforcement and financial crime investigators.


    Organized retail crime (ORC) is a low-risk, high-reward business line for transnational criminal organizations’ portfolios, that presents a significant financial and public safety risk. While retailers and law enforcement partner to investigate ORC cases and provide education on the misconceptions and misunderstandings, it is clear there is a missing link in these partnerships, and that link is financial institutions.


    In this paper, produced in partnership with Homeland Security Investigations, we define ORC and its evolving threat landscape, introduce the illicit financial flows tied to ORC and larger organized theft groups (OTGs), and provide case studies, red flags, and typologies. The paper also includes guidance and reasonable steps to enhance your anti-financial crime (AFC) program, including your investigation effectiveness, suspicious activity reporting (SAR), and how to identify which information is highly useful to law enforcement.

    About Our Partner

    Homeland Security Investigations (HS)
    HSI Color logo

    HSI is the principal investigative arm of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, responsible for investigating transnational crime and threats, specifically those criminal organizations that exploit the global infrastructure through which international trade, travel and finance move. Visit Homeland Security Investigations | ICE for more information.

    Key Themes

    Reading this paper will help law enforcers and anti-financial crime professionals to understand:

    • How to define and identify organized retail crime
    • The hierarchy and characteristics of organized theft groups
    • How ORC intersects with financial institutions
    • ORC red flags and typologies
    • ORC and OTG case studies
    • Suspicious activity reporting considerations
    • AML program considerations and enhancements

    Intended Audience

    This paper is intended for anyone working in law enforcement and financial crime prevention, including:

    • Financial crime and criminal investigators
    • Anti-money laundering (AML) crime officers
    • Retail and loss prevention investigators
    • E-commerce investigators
    • Transaction monitoring specialists
    • Compliance officers
    • Regulatory examiners
    • Law enforcement
    • Attorneys, prosecutors, and legal counsel


    Two young, businesswomen working together in the office with their laptops and notebooks
    Stock data charts on a screen

    Industry Sectors

    Industry sectors affected by the issues raised in this paper include:

    • Financial institutions, including FinTech and money services businesses (MSBs)
    • Law firms
    • Retail entities
    • Federal, state, and local law enforcement
    • Government
    • Online marketplaces and e-commerce