Home Depot Inc. executives said the nation’s opioid crisis could be contributing to an unexpected surge in thefts from its stores and warehouses.
The company said distribution centers that house its goods and those of other retailers have been targets of organized groups of criminals who are stealing millions of dollars’ worth of products. The theft, which retailers call shrink, has gotten so bad that it will narrow Home Depot’s operating profit margins next year, it said on a call with analysts Wednesday.
Home Depot’s admission is one of the first times a major U.S. retailer has specifically called out the opioid epidemic as a factor in its performance and financial results.
In one instance, thieves were caught attempting to steal $16.5 million worth of goods, of which $1.4 million was destined for Home Depot’s stores, executives said on the call. In response, Home Depot is using technology including machine learning to anticipate where the organized crime rings are headed next.