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Even in these troubled economic times, some groups are thriving  – take organized gangs of shoplifters, for instance.

According to the National Retail Federation’s fifth annual Organized Retail Crime survey, nine out of ten retailers say they’ve been robbed by organized gangs in the last year. And, nearly three-quarters of the stores and restaurants surveyed say the collective thievery is on the rise.

Maybe they should follow Universal Gear’s example and get creative with the crime fighting. Last month, Universal’s owner posted surveillance video from a brazen spree at the 14th Street clothing joint.

All the publicity from the YouTube posting has really taken a bite out of crime, says Kristopher Johnson, the store’s sales manager. Universal hasn’t had a single group-shoplifting incident since the visuals went online. On the other hand, the police presence at the store has gone way up, says Johnson. (It probably didn’t hurt that the Washington Post ran a Metro-front story about the video.) 

But Johnson doubts YouTube’s crime-fighting abilities over the long haul.

“It’s definitely not a long term solution. But for the last month or so, it’s worked for our store,” he says.