The Fresno Bee: Starbucks closings spark dispute

Retail crime expert Karl Langhorst weighs in on coffee chain closings due to safety concerns

Many brick and mortar retailers are seeing a growing amount of violent criminal activity, which ranges from smash and grab robberies to increasingly brazen acts of organized retail crime to tragically, active shooting incidents.

Most recently, Starbucks announced the closing of more than a dozen locations due to safety concerns, although some also tie the closures to recent unionization.

"It has been my experience that retailers are in the business to be profitable," said Karl Langhorst, adjunct professor at the University of Cincinnati College of Criminal Justice. "If they are closing stores, be they union or nonunion, it is usually because keeping the store open is no longer viable because of profitability headwinds."

Langhorst told The Bee that rising violent crime in retail establishments has had an increasingly negative impact on employee hiring and retention, customer traffic, and the ability for retailers to maintain acceptable store standards. "The perceived lack of consequences by criminal offenders for their actions, coupled with significant law enforcement staffing shortages, has created what unfortunately is an increasingly difficult and dangerous situation," he said.

A survey by the National Retail Federation last year found that 82% of loss-prevention professionals said mall or store violence/shooting incidents has become more of a priority over the past five years.

"This troubling trend is not only negatively impacting retailers and their employees and customers, but also the communities they serve."

Langhorst’s courses include the study of organized retail crime, active shooters and prevention methodologies. 

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Featured image at top courtesy of Unsplash. 

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