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Customers in a Home Depot in Pleasanton, California, in February 2021. Photo: David Paul Morris/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Retailers have a new edge for fighting theft: They're using technology to disable stolen goods — from iPhones to Black & Decker drills — and render them useless.

Why it matters: Organized retail crime has a considerable affect on retailers every year, costing them an average of $719,000 per $1 billion dollars in sales, according to estimates from the National Retail Federation.

  • Three in four of victim businesses told NRF in a survey that they have noticed an increase in organized theft-related instances in the past year.

Home Depot recently unveiled Bluetooth activation tech that allows its stores to lock new power tools until they are purchased, Business Insider reports, rendering them useless if they are stolen.

  • The new tech, set to be in all of Home Depot's 1,988 stores, won't change the shopping experience for the average consumer, as the company doesn't want to put everything under lock-and-key.
  • '"We certainly don't want to affect the 99.5% of our customers who are just there to pick up their hammers and nails," Scott Glenn, Home Depot's vice president of asset protection, told Insider.
  • Companies have also been investing in GPS technology to track goods to prevent in-transit cargo crime, according to S&P Global Market Intelligence.
  • Apple disabled and tracked demo iPhones that were stolen from stores in New York, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, Portland and Washington, D.C last summer, according to MarketWatch.

The big picture: Several companies told NRF that they have changed or plan on changing in-store rules, how they screen employees and their loss prevention budgets to address organized looting.

  • Target reduced its hours at its five locations in San Francisco last month because of an uptick in retail theft, according to SFGATE.
  • The use of online resellers like eBay and Amazon have helped professional shoplifting rings move goods and operate like a "shadow business" Glenn noted.

Go deeper

Exclusive: EPA administrator visits Apple HQ to talk climate, environmental justice

EPA administrator Michael Regan (L) on a tour of Apple headquarters led by former EPA head and now Apple executive Lisa Jackson on Aug. 17, 2021. (Apple handout)

Environmental Protection Agency administrator Michael Regan visited the Apple headquarters Tuesday for a conversation with former EPA head Lisa Jackson, who now serves as the tech giant's leader on environment, policy and social initiatives.

The big picture: Apple, considered a leader in procuring renewable energy for its stores, data centers and offices, is in the midst of tackling its toughest environmental challenge yet: greening its vast, global supply chain. The company is aiming to have a carbon neutral supply chain by 2030.

DOJ sues American Airlines, JetBlue to block "unprecedented" alliance

Photo: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images

The Justice Department on Tuesday sued American Airlines and JetBlue to block an "unprecedented series of agreements" that will consolidate the two airlines' operations in Boston and New York City.

Why it matters: The civil antitrust complaint alleges that the planned Northeast Alliance (NEA) "will cause hundreds of millions of dollars in harm to air passengers across the country through higher fares and reduced choice," the DOJ said in a release.

FBI: Body identified as Gabby Petito, death ruled a homicide

A memorial dedicated to Gabby Petito near City Hall in North Port, Fla. Photo: Octavio Jones/Getty Images

A body found in Teton County, Wyoming, on Sunday was confirmed to be the remains of missing 22-year-old blogger Gabby Petito, the FBI announced Tuesday.

Driving the news: The death was ruled a homicide by the Teton County coroner's office, the FBI said. The cause of death has not been determined.