On Fight Retail Crime Day, lawmakers renew their push for passage of the Combating Organized Retail Crime Act

Published: Oct. 26, 2023 at 4:10 PM CDT
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WASHINGTON (Gray DC) - Videos showing a group of people going into a store, pulling things from the shelves, and then running out are becoming a frequent occurrence.

Data from the Senate Judiciary Committee calculated that organized retail crime costs retail, on average, $720 thousand per billion dollars sold, a 50 percent increase since 2015.

Scott McBride, Chief Global Asset Protection Officer at American Eagle Outfitters says some of his employees have even been threatened. “We do training. We teach them how to de-escalate. We teach them how to be safe,” McBride explained. “We take a softer posture so that they are not as much in harm’s way. But that does not stop criminals from being criminal and coming and trying to attack them.”

The crime sprees have Senators Chuck Grassley and Catherine Cortez Masto making a renewed push for their Combating Organized Retail Crime Act.

“This is criminal organized crime. This is what they’re doing,” Sen. Cortez Masto said. “We literally need to give law enforcement the tools that they need to go after it. That’s what this legislation does.”

“This is more than just the original crime of this stealing,” Sen. Grassley said. “It involves a money laundering. Some of that money gets to China. Some of the money purchases credit in China. It comes back to the cartels or Mexico.”

The bill directs the Department of Homeland Security to start a special organized retail crime center.

To help federal prosecutors target criminal gangs working across state lines, the bill updates the basis for charges, allows federal prosecutors to use an aggregate total value of $5,000 or more over a 12-month period as a predicate for charges.

That means thieves can’t skirt the law by stealing just under the criminal threshold in one area and then moving to another and doing it again.

Cortez Masto believes this bill will impact shoppers as well. “I can tell you, if you’re going into your local store and wondering why things are getting locked up, this is part of it,” said Cortez Masto. “I think everybody’s experienced that.”

This bill still has to pass both chambers, but its sponsors say they are confident it will have widespread support.