Home Depot CEO Reveals What’s Behind the Alarming Theft Trend: ‘This Isn’t a Random Shoplifter Anymore’

By: Ben Campbell | Last updated: Oct 24, 2023

Shoplifting is an everyday problem that most large retail brands face. It can cost a company millions of dollars annually and an enormous amount of man-hours as they try to fight back against petty theft. 

A CEO of one of America’s largest retail brands, Home Depot, has recently spoken out against the dramatic increase in organized theft that’s been threatening the store’s profits and the safety of its staff. 

Americans Go to the Store for Home Improvement

Home Depot is one of the United States’ largest retail companies. With over 2,000 stores spread across the nation and more than 490,000 workers, it’s a major operation that significantly contributes to the economy. 


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However, with stores full of high-priced items, including power tools, generators, compressors, and CNC machines, they undoubtedly get their fair share of petty thieves who are out to make a quick buck. 


Petty Theft Turned to Organized Crime

However, in recent years, it appears that small-scale theft has turned into organized crime that’s both well-coordinated and extensively planned.


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According to the Home Depot CEO, Ted Decker, “This isn’t the random shoplifter anymore,” implying that the thieves spend a considerable amount of time planning their attacks. 

Unfortunate Consequences of the Crime

Over the past few years alone, Home Depot has seen the death of two of its employees during separate shoplifting incidents. 


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Gary Rasor, an 82-year-old employee working at a store in Hillsborough, North Carolina, was attacked during a robbery and later died from his injuries. Another employee was fatally shot in a store after trying to confront an alleged shoplifter. 

The True Scope of Organized Crime

The true scale of how large some of the organized criminal operations are was revealed in August when a Florida pastor was arrested.


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According to the reports, he was in charge of an enormous gang that targeted stores all across the state. It’s been estimated they stole millions of dollars worth of Home Depot stock. 

Organized Retail Crime on the Rise

A study recently released by the National Retail Federation (NRF) has revealed that organized retail crime has increased in complexity and scope. 

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It appears to be so severe that Home Depot’s former CEO, Bob Nardeli, recently described it as “An epidemic that’s spreading faster than COVID.”


Shoplifters Costing Retail Stores Over $100 Billion

In the report released by the NRF, they revealed that the organized crime is costing the retail industry around $100 billion per year.

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This leads to an increase in expenditure for companies like Home Depot. Money spent in the fight against shoplifting comes in the form of increased security guards and updated camera and surveillance systems. 


The Alarming Growth Rate of Thievery

Home Depot’s VP of asset protection, Scott Glenn, revealed that theft in the retail stores had been “growing double-digit year over year.”

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He continued, “More and more we’re seeing the risk being brought into the stores, and people being hurt or people even being killed in many cases because these folks, they just don’t care about the consequence.”


Home Depot Isn’t Alone

The popular home improvement retail store isn’t alone in the surge of organized retail crime. According to the NRF, it defines such thievery as the large-scale theft of retail merchandise to resell on the black market. 

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Over 70% of retail stores claim the threat of organized crime has increased drastically over the past five years, according to a study released by the National Retail Security Survey in 2022. 


Fighting Back Against Organized Crime

Home Depot has been left with no other choice than to begin locking up high-value items behind cages or in storage rooms. 

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CEO Ted Decker said, “They’re not all big, they’re not all power tools and generators. You can have a circuit breaker, [worth] $50, $60, $80, those are all high-theft items.”


Will Home Depot Be Forced to Close?

When asked about the possibility of having to shutter certain stores, which would follow in the footsteps of other American retail stores, he said, “So far, we’ve managed to avoid that.”

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Yet Decker admits that the company is becoming increasingly worried over the safety of their employees and customers.


Avoid Stolen Goods Online

When it comes to the vast majority of stolen goods, Decker explains that they are generally sold on online marketplaces. One way state governments are fighting against such crime is seen in the INFORM Consumers Act, passed last year by Congress. 

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The act requires anyone who’s planning to sell items on social media marketplaces to verify where the product was purchased from and even disclose certain financial information. However, whether or not this will affect organized crime is still up for debate.