Attorney General Kwame Raoul and the Illinois Retail Merchants Association have teamed up for a new proposal to fight organized retail crime.
Rauol is pushing legislation that would give prosecutors more power to go after crime rings and allow the Attorney General’s Office to convene a statewide grand jury: “By improving the ability of the Attorney General’s Office and state’s attorneys to prosecute these crimes, we can deter these smash-and-grab crimes and other violent thefts we have become too accustomed to seeing on our daily news. These crimes are perpetrated by sophisticated criminal enterprises coordinating the thefts of many items of high value. Those items are often sold and re-sold, and the funds are often used to fund drug trafficking and human trafficking.”
IRMA Chief Executive Rob Karr says that organized retail crime has grown exponentially over the last 5 years resulting in a changed shopping experience across the state – from the small mom & pop store to the high-end retailers: “O.R.C. is an insidious crime and often it has tentacles that spread into other areas of illicit activity. While organized retail crime has been an issue for many years, over the last 5 years, it has grown over 60%. We have all borne witness, as Illinois has become a national epicenter. Despite the hundreds of millions Illinois retailers spend on security every year, we see the result of this unchecked plague everywhere. We see it in the headlines of our news feeds. We see it when we go to the store when everyday items like toothpaste and razor blades are behind cages or a coat we want to try on is tethered to a rack.”
Karr says its the first time in his 30 years of working in retail that safety and crime are top priorities for retailers across the state. Karr says that not only will it go after the criminal doing the crime, closing loopholes in the court, but it will also go after a criminal attempting to fence stolen merchandise: “The proposal would also propose adopting regulation for the online third-party marketplaces where some people are fencing their stolen goods by seeking to adopt the INFORM Act being discussed in Washington D.C. We would hope to enhance public and private coordination statewide through all stakeholders. This all out collaboration is designed to provide real-time information, intelligence gathering, and collaboration in addition to the task force the A.G. has started. We would also require timely and proper notice to the victims of organized retail crime.”
The third-party electronic marketplace provision mirrors a current provision before Congress proposed by Illinois Senator Dick Durbin and Illinois Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky. The proposal by the Attorney General’s Office and IRMA now heads to the General Assembly for consideration.