Home Depot Counters Organized Retail Crime With Bluetooth Tech

As retailers face a surge in organized retail crime, Home Depot is fighting back with new tech. The home-improvement retailer will use Bluetooth technology to prevent criminals from reselling stolen goods.

The store will use Bluetooth-enabled technology to enable customers to validate the purchases of major power tool brands such as DeWalt and Milwaukee.

Once the tool is paid for, the store will activate the tool with Bluetooth tech, which will then be ready for use. The home improvement chain is implementing the new policy at “select locations” in the United States, presumably those plagued with retail crime. (Story continues below.)

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‘Organized’ Retail Crime a Growing Problem

Organized retail crime is a serious problem for a growing number of businesses, including the nation’s largest home-improvement retailer. Individuals or groups are known to walk into a store, grab stacks of power tools and head straight for the exit.

This is more than just shoplifting. The goods are usually not stolen for personal use. Instead, they are resold for cash.

The criminals can net thousands of dollars from just one run at the store. In May, two suspects were charged with stealing merchandise worth over $10,000 from three Home Depot stores.

The problem is compounded by the so-called “policing reforms” in cities such as San Francisco, where the police don’t prosecute retail theft.

“The answer really lies, I think partially, with the district attorney and the fact that he’s made it clear he will not prosecute many of these crimes,” said President of the California Retailers Association Rachel Michelin.

“When people hear that, they look at San Francisco and think they can commit these crimes and there will not be any consequences for their behavior,” she continued.

Stores Seek Creative Solutions

But, until law enforcement and states take the issue seriously, retailers remain at risk. As such, Home Depot may be a model for the future. Goods may not become “accessible” until they’re paid for in full.

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