The number of retail crime incidents fell slightly last year, but U.S. merchants report a new trend of thieves returning stolen merchandise in exchange for gift cards that they sell for cash, according to NRF's annual Organized Retail Crime Survey. The report also found that 18.3% of in-store apprehensions of retail theft suspects led to violence, up from 15.2% last year. "They're not going out and looking for violence, but they are prepared not to be caught and are often in possession of weapons," said Rich Mellor, NRF's vice president of loss prevention.

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