Congress has introducedÂ legislation that would make "Organized Retail Crime" a federal offense. This is good news as current stateÂ laws only addressÂ ORC as an individual state issue. Frequently ORC cases encompasses thefts from multiple states making it extremely difficult to procesute the offenders.
This legislation will also go a long way in addressing e-fenceing and put a crimp in the on-line sales of stolen property. On-line sellers would need to show that they have taken steps toÂ insure that stolen property is not being sold on the internet. The bill would also allow retailers to sue on-line auction sites who sell their stolen merchandise.Â
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From theÂ National Retail Federation - Â
Washington, July 15, 2008 â€“ The National Retail Federation welcomed todayâ€™s introduction of legislation that would make organized retail crime a federal offense in an attempt to stop a growing problem that costs retailers and consumers as much as $30 billion a year and threatens public safety through the sale of tainted goods.
â€œThe introduction of this bill shows that Congress realizes organized retail crime is more than just shoplifting,â€ NRF Vice President for Loss Prevention Joseph LaRocca said. â€œOrganized retail crime is a large and growing national issue with dollar losses bigger than robbery, larceny, burglary and auto theft combined. It also threatens public health and safety when thieves tamper with items like baby formula or over-the-counter medications before offering them for sale. This legislation will make organized retail crime part of our federal criminal statutes, and give law enforcement officers and prosecutors the tools they need to put these criminals behind bars.â€
â€œA significant portion of this bill deals with on-line fencing of stolen goods,â€ LaRocca said. â€œOn-line auctions and other markets on the Internet provide a Wild West environment where thieves can re-sell stolen property to customers on a national or even international level with virtually no questions asked. Requiring Internet marketplaces to live up to their responsibility to block the sale of obviously stolen merchandise is not unreasonable. Weâ€™ve seen from this weekâ€™s ruling on the sale of counterfeit goods that current laws are not adequate to police these sites. Itâ€™s time for Congress to bring on-line crime under control.â€
H.R. 6491, the Organized Retail Crime Act of 2008 was introduced today by Representative Brad Ellsworth, D-Ind., with Representative Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, as the lead co-sponsor. The bill would define organized retail crime as â€œthe acquiring of retail merchandise by illegal means for the purpose of reselling the itemsâ€ and make such activity â€“ including transportation, sale or receipt of stolen retail goods, â€“ a federal crime.
Among other provisions, sale of stolen or counterfeit gift cards, or items with faked Universal Product Codes or Radio Frequency Identification chips would be considered fraud. Those found guilty of committing or facilitating organized retail crimes would be subject to appropriate existing fines, prison terms and forfeiture, and the legislation would require the U.S. Sentencing Commission to review its guidelines for cases involving such crimes.
The bill would also establish that operation of on-line marketplaces such as auction sites can be considered â€œfacilitationâ€ of organized retail crime unless the operator can show that specific steps had been taken to ensure that goods being sold were not obtained by theft or fraud. Site operators would be required to â€œexpeditiouslyâ€ investigate complaints that stolen items are being sold, maintain records of the names and physical addresses of high-volume sellers, and require high-volume sellers to either post that information along with merchandise offerings or make it available upon request to any business with a reasonable suspicion about the merchandise.