Retail Fraud

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Shoppers beware; retailers are on the lookout because 'tis the season to shoplift. Store managers are gearing up for the most popular time for retail theft.

Sunshine Blombergh, a store manager, said, "On the rare occasion we do have theft. Out of respect for our community we do prosecute because theft on any level hurts the community and hurts our employees."

A recent report released by the University of Florida says that retail theft cost the industry more than $37 billion last year. That number is up from $31 billion in 2003. The report also says nearly half of that money was lost to employee theft, raising the eyebrows of some store owners.

Joel Silver, a store owner, said, "By putting in proper security measures we try to diminish the urge for them to steal, and by controlling the amount of stuff in the register, putting most of the stuff on credit card, it's very hard to steal money."

Employee theft often involves gift card scams.

Gift cards account for about $18 billion in sales. The downfall is employees sometimes have the access to exchange real cards for blanks. The Retail Federation says retailers expect to loose $3.5 billion due to fraudulent returns this season.