Retail theft coalition lauds crime bill

A bill introduced last week by Senator Richard Durbin, will protect consumers and give law enforcement the tools it needs to prosecute organized retail crime (ORC), said the Coalition Against Organized Retail Crime.

"The Coalition Against Organized Retail Crime commends Senator Durbin for introducing this important legislation," said Al Thompson, vice president for global supply chain at the Retail Industry Leaders Association. "This legislation represents a long term effort to curb the growth of this criminal activity and find real, common sense solutions to combat it."

The Combating Organized Retail Crime Act of 2008 would clarify existing law to give law enforcement the tools to prosecute ORC, require online and offline marketplaces to investigate suspicious sales, and place basic disclosure requirements on online marketplaces.

Organized retail crime is a serious and growing national problem. Sophisticated rings of thieves steal billions of dollars of merchandise for the purposes of selling it to unwitting consumers. ORC criminals use flea markets, pawn shops and increasingly online auction Web sites to sell their stolen goods. ORC criminals jeopardize the health and safety of consumers when they sell tampered or mishandled products like baby formula and diabetic test strips to unwitting consumers.

"Organized retail crime is a serious and growing national problem and the criminals associated with it pose a real danger to communities," said John J. Motley, III, senior vice president of government and public affairs at the Food Marketing Institute. "ORC gangs are sophisticated and often use the profits of this crime to fund other criminal activities."

"The impact of ORC is widespread and the current patchwork of state laws doesn’t sufficiently address the problem," said Joe LaRocca, vice president for loss prevention at the National Retail Federation. "State and local law enforcement cannot always chase criminals across state lines and onto the Internet – and criminals know it. This bill will update our laws to deal with ORC as well as the growing problem of e-fencing."

According to the FBI, the losses attributed to organized retail crime reach well into the tens of billions of dollars a year. Today, its rampant growth is outpacing the ability of state and local authorities to combat it.