Media Advisory

Fighting retail crime through the science of stealing

Shoppers scoring holiday bargains on Black Friday might want to give thanks to an unlikely ally: a group of researchers at the University of Florida using science to fight retail crime.

By hanging around with criminals, testing new technologies, and analyzing crime data, the group works to understand and prevent retail crime, which drives prices up for paying customers. U.S. retailers lost $44 billion in merchandise in 2014, much of it due to theft and fraud. Lower prices are just one reason to care about retail crime: Retail theft also has been linked to violent crime, gang activity, even terrorism.

Criminologist Read Hayes, co-director of UF’s Crime Prevention Research Team and part-time director of the industry group Loss Prevention Research Council is available to talk about these and other aspects of fighting retail crime:

  • The connection between retail theft, terrorism and gang activity
  • Which items organized-crime rings steal – and why 
  • The connection to violent crime: What’s behind the rash of armed robberies at drug stores in the Midwest, and what experts are doing about it
  • What we can learn from criminals
  • New ways to stop criminals, from facial recognition to Barry Manilow music

You can reach research scientist Read Hayes, PhD, at or 321-303-6193.