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Durkin introduces organized theft bill while blasting Pritzker, but IRMA says it’s working on a more comprehensive approach

Tuesday, Dec 14, 2021 - Posted by Rich Miller

* Press release…

As “smash-and-grab” robberies continue to terrorize consumers and retailers, House Republican Leader Jim Durkin (R-Western Springs) has filed legislation targeting the organized theft rings behind these headline-grabbing crimes.

“Smash-and-grab retail theft has become disturbingly commonplace and these criminals are only becoming more brazen,” said Durkin. “These crimes have many victims, from the people who own and operate these stores, to their employees and customers. We cannot let this stand. These criminals are sophisticated and organized like the street gangs that terrorize our communities and must be treated the same.”

Retailers, from small mom and pop stores to large companies, lost between $3.7 and $4 billion worth of merchandise to retail theft in Illinois alone last year, according to a recent report from the Illinois Retail Merchants Association. Additionally, billions in stolen goods means the state loses out on millions in sales tax revenue. These thieves are not reselling on street corners or out of car trunks, but through anonymous online marketplaces.

Durkin’s legislation, House Bill 4275, creates the crime of organized retail theft, a felony punishable by up to 15 years in jail if the value of the stolen goods is more than the state’s current felony threshold of $300.

Under Durkin’s proposal, a person commits organized retail theft when they:

    • Work with one or more people to steal merchandise with the intent of selling or returning the merchandise for profit.
    • Work with two or more people to receive, purchase or possess merchandise they believe to be stolen.
    • Act as an agent of another individual or group of individuals to steal merchandise from one or more merchant’s premises as part of an organized plan to commit theft.
    • Recruit, coordinate, organize, supervise, direct, manage or finance another person to undertake any of these actions.

Durkin’s legislation also allows for organized retail theft to be charged in one of several locations. Charges can be brought either where the theft took place, where the merchandise was recovered, or where stolen merchandise was resold. For instance, if a store on Michigan Avenue was robbed, but the organized crime ring attempted to sell the stolen goods in DuPage County, the crime could be charged in Cook or DuPage County.

“States Attorney Foxx and Governor Pritzker continue to coddle criminals and disregard the victims of their crimes. It is time we reset our criminal justice system and hold those who disregard our laws accountable. Our citizens and our merchants are desperate for action,” said Durkin.

* I asked for a response from Rob Karr, the president & CEO of the Illinois Retail Merchants Association…

While we appreciate Leader Durkin’s continued support of the retail community as well as his efforts to ensure retailers can continue to operate safely in Illinois, we are in need of policies that best addresses the many complexities of organized retail crime. To that end, we will soon be unveiling a proposal that advocates for comprehensive solutions. With profits from organized retail crime driving other illicit activities such as illegal firearms purchases, human trafficking, and in worst cases terrorism, as well as eroding sales tax revenues and threatening retail viability, it is far from a victimless crime. Indeed, Illinois has become the epicenter for these types of crimes, with organized retail theft growing over 60% in just the last five years. It is more important than ever before that elected officials work with members of the retail community to ensure Illinois is no longer an easy target.

* Related…

* Kim Foxx rethinking retail theft policy: In an emailed statement, Foxx spokeswoman Cristina Villareal confirmed the office is reviewing its policy. “We believe the retail threshold at $1,000 for felony charges is in line with the rest of the country, but we have committed to look at available data and engage with partners to see if this is still the best policy,” she wrote. “It’s important to note that cases of retail theft are not the same as ‘smash and grab’ and organized theft rings. We will also be taking a look at our policies around those issues.”

* Three new retailers are coming to State Street. Really.

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30 Comments
  1. - Translation from Rob Karr - Tuesday, Dec 14, 21 @ 3:17 pm:

    Republicans can’t get bills passed in the ILGA. We’ll introduce our own bill so Democrats can get credit for passing it.


  2. - Rich Miller - Tuesday, Dec 14, 21 @ 3:27 pm:

    Your translation machine is out of whack. They’re not gonna introduce identical legislation. But, yeah, introducing a bill with that sort of press release guarantees it’s going nowhere.


  3. - hisgirlfriday - Tuesday, Dec 14, 21 @ 3:28 pm:

    Something should be done but I am not sure what.

    Have recently heard stories from somebody who is a longtime retail pharmacist in IL about how in recent months their store first had to lock up all the shopping carts because criminals would just run in a store with a cart and grab everything they could fit in it and run out with the cart.

    Then when the criminals no longer had access to carts they did the same thing with plastic shopping baskets so those had to be locked up too.

    But as much as the lax criminal penalties or online marketplace is a factor in increased retail theft, another factor that is less talked about is how the staffing shortages/decisions in these stores contribute to creating a target rich environment.

    Your local CVS or Walgreens will pretty much always have more than one person and perhaps many people back behind the pharmacy counter at the back of the store but it is not that unusual (at least in my experience) to only see one person on the floor of the entire retail space and they may be at any given moment helping a customer behind the photo counter or stocking shelves as opposed to being up front by the register.

    If stores did/could hire more retail workers I think that would help deter theft.


  4. - Michelle Flaherty - Tuesday, Dec 14, 21 @ 3:37 pm:

    Isn’t “organized theft” what the Trump White House was trying to do?


  5. - Downstate - Tuesday, Dec 14, 21 @ 3:44 pm:

    “If stores did/could hire more retail workers I think that would help deter theft.”

    Would you want your child working in a “target rich” retail location? With all due respect, I’m not sure 1-2 more front counter clerks will deter these criminals.


  6. - Bothanspied - Tuesday, Dec 14, 21 @ 3:45 pm:

    How does ANTIFA have time to riot and also have time to coordinate sophisticated smash and grabs?


  7. - Ron Burgundy - Tuesday, Dec 14, 21 @ 3:53 pm:

    -I’m not sure 1-2 more front counter clerks will deter these criminals.-

    They won’t, and it might just get people hurt. This is sometimes a dozen or more people storming a store, sometimes armed or at least potentially armed, and in and out in 60 seconds. The whole idea being to overwhelm the place so they can’t catch everyone. A heightened offense for this activity is warranted, especially for those of the smash and grab variety using vehicles to break into storefronts. However, additional physical measures such as anti-vehicle posts/barriers and enhanced surveillance camera coverage are also needed and might contribute to some arrests. Concentrated areas like Mag Mile might need a dedicated law enforcement team on certain nights that can rapidly deploy if they get info such actions are planned.


  8. - OneMan - Tuesday, Dec 14, 21 @ 3:54 pm:

    “If stores did/could hire more retail workers I think that would help deter theft.”

    My brief experience in retail (I worked as a trainer as a side gig for a major computer retailer) we all had to come in for a meeting about shrink and selling extended warranties. The shrink they wanted to talk about actually was from an employee in the service department stealing memory. But while we talked about that they went over loss prevention in general.

    Rule 1 was, do not try and stop a shoplifter, if they got out the front door do not chase them. I suspect thieves know this as well.


  9. - City remap - Tuesday, Dec 14, 21 @ 4:01 pm:

    Lets not get to emotional over this issue, the local politicians will cry and moan all day. Chicago will need to solve this on their own, however, as someone who Ubers passengers on the weekend, people feel a bit let down on the crime.


  10. - duck duck goose - Tuesday, Dec 14, 21 @ 4:09 pm:

    Is there a lot of smash-and-grab robberies going on in Western Springs?


  11. - Ron Burgundy - Tuesday, Dec 14, 21 @ 4:19 pm:

    -Is there a lot of smash-and-grab robberies going on in Western Springs?-

    No, but there was one very recently at Oakbrook Center about 5 miles away. It’s a legitimate issue for him to address. Now, how he goes about it is a different matter.


  12. - Fly like an eagle - Tuesday, Dec 14, 21 @ 4:24 pm:

    Here’s an article about Schakowsky’s and Bilirakis’ Inform Consumer’s Act. Of course there is pushback from the sellers. https://www.businessinsider.com/retail-ceos-congress-stores-theft-anonymous-online-retail-crime-2021-12


  13. - Mr. Green Genes - Tuesday, Dec 14, 21 @ 4:37 pm:

    “Lets not get to emotional over this issue.”
    Agree. It’s best to look at things objectively.
    “the local politicians will cry and moan all day.”
    That’s just what they do.
    “Chicago will need to solve this on their own.”
    This problem isn’t just in Chicago.
    But speaking of just Chicago, there were 6357 incidents of retail theft in 2020, down from 8985 in 2016.


  14. - Rich Miller - Tuesday, Dec 14, 21 @ 4:48 pm:

    ===6357 incidents of retail theft in 2020, down from 8985 in 2016===

    OK, but many stores were closed for part of that time.


  15. - Amalia - Tuesday, Dec 14, 21 @ 4:49 pm:

    anything to jump start the conversation. the criminal action is getting ridiculous.


  16. - Red Ketcher - Tuesday, Dec 14, 21 @ 4:51 pm:

    “It strains logic to presume that the legislature intended most incidents of retail theft to be prosecuted as burglaries,” the Court observed. The Supreme Court concluded that, if the defendant had exceeded his physical authority to be on the premises, burglary charges might be appropriate, but, in this case, he did not, so his felony conviction for burglary was reversed.

    Appears that maybe IL Sup Ct People v Bradford left open possibility for “Smash and Grab ” to be Charged as Burglary ?


  17. - sal-says - Tuesday, Dec 14, 21 @ 5:29 pm:

    Did I miss where durkin worked with the IRMA ? Or is this another oppo to whine ?


  18. - charles in charge - Tuesday, Dec 14, 21 @ 5:48 pm:

    Durkin’s proposal would essentially redefine many if not most cases of ordinary shoplifting–already subject to some of the most punitive sentencing laws in the nation–as “organized retail theft,” and increase the penalty by two classes. That change would be incredibly misguided and highly unlikely to do anything whatsoever to reduce the incidence of theft. If the GA decides to go that route, then it will be obvious that they are more interested in saying they did “something” for election purposes than actually working toward real solutions.


  19. - Circular Persective - Tuesday, Dec 14, 21 @ 6:43 pm:

    Forget the merchant association, I want to hear what prosecutors think of this law.

    Do THEY want specific legislation or are existing laws against criminal conspiracy enough?


  20. - don the legend - Tuesday, Dec 14, 21 @ 7:59 pm:

    I used to think Death Wish’s Paul Kersey was only fictional. I think he has a chance to become all to real.


  21. - How high - Wednesday, Dec 15, 21 @ 5:33 am:

    Consumer prices have exploded. Security guards are being bear sprayed. Criminal mobs are coordinating huge robberies online and ciolently carrying


  22. - Mr. Green Genes - Wednesday, Dec 15, 21 @ 5:55 am:

    Right. Because no thief would steal from a closed store. That would be unsportsmanlike.


  23. - Candy Dogood - Wednesday, Dec 15, 21 @ 8:47 am:

    I always find it fascinating when Republicans act like the best way to address any issue is to lock people up for it for an incredibly long time because it suggests that they really believe that Government services, including prisons, are free, and that they really believe that penalties are a good way to prevent crimes and yet none of the laws against treason or insurrection have stopped them from offering tacit support to a coup and siding with one of their colleagues that actively participated whose wife is attacking congressional efforts to investigate the insurrection after she also participated while favorably quoting Hitler.

    These days the number one requirement to be a Republican is that you do not ever try to connect the dots.


  24. - Cool Papa Bell - Wednesday, Dec 15, 21 @ 9:41 am:

    Thinking back to those semi trailers and storage units that were found and raided by northern Illinois cops and the AG - those all weren’t items taken in a smash and grabs. That amount of stuff seems to me to have been pilford out of warehouses and by other means. There is a lot of high level crime to tackle here.

    But the fear and worry about this is very real. Two weeks ago I was back in the loop and walking at night on State Street for the first time in a year and half at night and I was shocked at what I saw. Closed store fronts, dark buildings and a total lack of cops on the street. They used to be in squad cars lined up and down State - I saw one in about an hour of walking around. There were a lot fewer people out too. The vibe wasn’t good.

    I understand its on the back end of a pandemic - but the city is different. And I didn’t get the feeling that everyone out felt totally safe or like they were someplace where things were under control.


  25. - walker - Wednesday, Dec 15, 21 @ 10:26 am:

    Charles in Charge above
    Correct on all counts.


  26. - northernwatersports - Wednesday, Dec 15, 21 @ 3:47 pm:

    I’m with Walker (and Charles in Charge).

    The strategies should be designed to deter the crimes from happening in the first place…

    What about auto locking doors/entries/exits, auto dialed 911 upon activation, controlled remotely, with camera surveillance during business hours, and locking down the physical structure as the crime is occurring??
    They do that for pawn shops, jewelry retailers and other obvious targets….

    Technology surely offers solutions….reduce the motivation for the crime by putting the thieves on notice that if you smash/steal it (someone will always be watching), you’ll be locked in the store until the PD arrives.
    Smile for the camera now…..


  27. - Da big bad wolf - Wednesday, Dec 15, 21 @ 3:48 pm:

    === These thieves are not reselling on street corners or out of car trunks, but through anonymous online marketplaces.===

    eBay and Amazon collect state taxes now. Which online marketplace is Durkin referencing?


  28. - Rich Miller - Wednesday, Dec 15, 21 @ 3:49 pm:

    ===Which online marketplace is Durkin referencing? ===

    They exist. Some congresscritters are pushing a bill to crack down on them.


  29. - Rich Miller - Wednesday, Dec 15, 21 @ 3:51 pm:

    ===locking down the physical structure as the crime is occurring===

    You wanna lock armed and amped-up criminals into a room with your customers?


  30. - Da big bad wolf - Thursday, Dec 16, 21 @ 8:00 am:

    === They exist. Some congresscritters are pushing a bill to crack down on them.===
    That is a good idea and will be more effective than Durkin’s bill. If they can’t convert the stolen goods to cash they won’t do the crime.


Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.


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