WASHINGTON DC- In a letter to members of Congress, the National Governors Association, the National Conference of State Legislatures, and the National District Attorneys Association, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce urges policymakers to address the growing problem of retail theft and organized retail crime that harms communities and businesses. of all sizes across America.
“The retail sector – already grappling with the effects of the pandemic, labor shortages and supply chain issues – is now facing large-scale theft and looting, including much of it is a result of organized crime,” said Neil Bradley, executive vice president and chief. Policy Officer at the United States Chamber of Commerce. “Retail theft is becoming a national crisis, hurting businesses in every state and the communities they serve. We call on policy makers to tackle this problem head-on before it spins even further out of control. No store should close because of theft.
A recent investigation of small business owners found that a majority (54%) experienced an increase in shoplifting in 2021. According to one investigation of the largest retailers by the National Retail Federation, organized crime cost stores an average of more than $700,000 per billion dollars in sales in 2020, up more than 50% over the past five years.
“These crimes are not without victims,” reads the letter from the Chamber. “In addition to the increasing number of thefts becoming violent, innocent consumers, employees, local communities, business owners and shareholders are bearing the costs of increased retail theft. Twenty-five percent of small businesses report raising prices as a result of shoplifting. Some retailers have been forced to close locations in response to rampant thefts. »
The Chamber calls on policymakers to take the following steps to combat organized crime in retail:
- Congress should pass legislation to end the sale of stolen goods in online marketplaces: Bipartisan HR 5502, “Integrity, Notification, and Fairness in Online Retail Marketplaces for (INFORM) Consumers Act,” would increase transparency and identity verification for high-volume third-party sellers in online retail marketplaces while protecting the privacy of small sellers and establishing a uniform federal standard that would bring certainty and consistency to the business community. This legislation would deter retail crime by closing an important avenue through which criminals seek to profit from the sale of stolen goods, often to unsuspecting customers.
- Update the definition of organized retail crime and increase criminal penalties: States should act to define the crime of “organized retail theft” in criminal law to specify thefts involving two or more participants and intent to resell and to include increased penalties for these specific violations.
- The law and prosecutors must hold accountable those who engage in organized and large retail thefts: Since 2000, at least 40 states have raised the thresholds for the value of stolen property to trigger a felony charge. In some cases, criminals take advantage of these higher thresholds to engage in repeat theft and avoid prosecution. States should reconsider these thresholds and prosecutors should avoid adopting blanket non-prosecution policies.
The full text of the letter can be found by click here.