Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul has announced the first of its kind Retail Crime Task Force. The public-private partnership with law enforcement members from across the state with retailers like CVS, Home Depot, Lowe’s, Target, Walgreens, and Wal-Mart are aiming to cut down on organized retail crime.
According to the Coalition of Law Enforcement and Retail, organized retail theft accounts for $45 billion in annual losses causing consumer prices to go up. All of the major retailers say they have seen increases in organized retail crime between 70-90% over the last 5 years. Raoul says organized retail theft often lead to other, more serious crimes: “Organized retail theft accounts for $45 billion in annual losses. Even during the looting that we saw last year on the edges of legitimate protests, we came to understand that some of this criminal activity was not merely opportunistic but organized in advance. Often, theft from retail establishments may be connected to human trafficking, money laundering, narcotics, counterfeit products, violent crime, and more.”
Illinois Senator Dick Durbin has spearheaded a call for federal action to address organized retail crime by introducing bipartisan Senate legislation, the INFORM Consumers Act, to promote transparency and verification on online marketplaces in order to deter illicit sellers from using the marketplaces to re-sell stolen goods.
The task force will allow Raoul’s office to utilize data and tips provided by retailers and partner across jurisdictions with law enforcement agencies to investigate organized retail crimes and trace thefts to the source. Raoul’s goal in establishing the task force is to improve communication among public and private entities and utilize a multifaceted approach to combating organized retail theft and related criminal activity. For the first time, organized retail crime investigations will not be limited by county lines, ultimately leading to the arrest and prosecution of the organizations responsible.