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Pritzker signs bill to combat organized retail crime

Friday, May 13, 2022

* IRMA…

On behalf of retailers across the state, the Illinois Retail Merchants Association (IRMA) applauds Gov. JB Pritzker for signing into law HB1091, a comprehensive proposal to combat organized retail crime that has plagued neighborhoods across Chicago and communities throughout the state.

Crafted by IRMA in partnership with Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul, the measure represents one of the most sweeping efforts in the nation to combat organized retail crime by addressing the problem from multiple angles. This includes providing prosecutors with more tools to hold criminals accountable, dedicating state funds to investigate and prosecute the criminal rings carrying out these brazen thefts, requiring more oversight of third-party marketplaces where stolen goods are sold, stronger rights for victims of organized retail crime and the creation of a statewide intelligence gathering and sharing platform to allow retailers and law enforcement agencies to better coordinate.

“Organized retail crime is not a victimless crime. It threatens the safety of employees and customers, robs businesses of tax dollars and puts communities at risk of further crime including illegal firearm purchases, human trafficking and even terrorism. We thank Governor Pritzker for signing this important measure into law, creating additional avenues to combat these complex crimes and provide for safer communities,” said Rob Karr, president & CEO, IRMA. “I want to thank Attorney General Raoul for his partnership in combatting the rising issue of organized retail crime, as well as every lawmaker who supported and voted in favor of this measure that will help protect retailers, employees and customers across the state.”

“This new law represents another important step to fight crime and advance public safety in Illinois,” said Governor JB Pritzker. “This is how we protect store workers and customers, prevent militarized storefronts and empty commercial corridors, and across the board, make communities safer for all who call them home. And I look forward to furthering our work to shape a public safety system that works for all of us, including ensuring the victim rights advanced today are carried throughout our justice system.”

The bill creates and defines the violation of organized retail crime, providing the emphasis and focus required to combat this dangerous form of retail theft, which is performed by criminal groups with the goal of reselling stolen items to fund illicit activities. The legislation specifically targets those organizing these crimes, which is defined as an individual who knowingly recruits, organizes, supervises, manages, finances or otherwise directs others to commit organized retail crime, which includes smash and grab robberies as well as the looting of supply chain vehicles. Prosecutors would be given wider discretion to bring charges regardless of where the crime takes place. For instance, if the conspiracy, theft and selling all occurred in different jurisdictions, each jurisdiction would have the ability to prosecute the whole crime.

In addition, organized retail crime could be prosecuted by the Attorney General via the Statewide Grand Jury. This would give law enforcement officials another avenue by which to hold leaders of criminal rings accountable. Further, victims of organized retail crime must be given at least seven days’ notice of all court proceedings, which must be sent to the establishment where the crime occurred as well as any persons the victims designate.

To support these efforts, HB1091 calls for earmarking state funds on an annual basis to create new positions in the Attorney General’s office and various State’s Attorneys offices dedicated to investigating and prosecuting organized retail crime and illicit trade.

“Serious criminal activities, including gunrunning and drug trafficking, have been funded using proceeds from the sales of merchandise stolen through organized retail crimes. This is not just a criminal problem – this hurts consumers as well. That is why we need online marketplaces to do their part. Online marketplaces must use their intellectual resources to make sure criminals are not selling stolen products on their sites, which will help us protect consumers,” said Attorney General Kwame Raoul. “This law strengthens the authority of my office and other law enforcement agencies to disrupt criminal enterprises that are directly responsible for the rise in organized retail crime. I appreciate Gov. Pritzker’s signing of this important law, as well as the leadership of Sen. Glowiak Hilton and Rep. Kam Buckner in guiding this bipartisan proposal through the Illinois General Assembly.”

The legislation builds on the work of the Attorney General’s Organized Retail Crime Task Force, which is designed to investigate these crimes and trace them to their source. In December, the task force and the Chicago Police Department Force recovered stolen goods worth millions of dollars during a sting operation. IRMA also works with the United to Safeguard America from Illicit Trade (USA-IT) Coalition, which aims to address organized retail crime at the national level.

Increasingly, goods stolen during the execution of organized retail crime are often sold on third party electronic marketplaces. The bill requires these online marketplaces to verify the identity of high-volume sellers using bank account numbers, taxpayer IDs or other information. Those sellers would be required to provide valid contact information, and marketplaces would be required to suspend the activity of third-party sellers for non-compliance. This is a vital public safety component as these sales are used to fund illegal activity including drug trade, weapons smuggling, human trafficking and terrorism. The proposal is identical to the agreed proposal being sponsored in Washington, D.C. by U.S. Senator Dick Durbin and Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky.

A recent study by the Retail Industry Leaders Association found that as much as $68.9 billion in products were stolen from retailers nationwide in 2019, with retail crime resulting in $125.7 billion in lost economic activity and 658,375 fewer jobs. It’s estimated that retail theft costs federal and state governments nearly $15 billion in personal and business tax revenues, not including sales tax losses. These are conservative estimates as some jurisdictions discourage organized retail theft complaints and prosecutions.

* From the press conference…

Q: Can you respond to critics throughout the last few months who have pointed out that since before even before the pandemic, various crimes like property crimes, which would include retail theft, burglary, etc, have actually gone down. And not just that, but there’s laws on the books that address conspiracy cases on criminal practices. So given all that, can you still talk about why a law like this is needed?

* Pritzker: Sure. And I’m gonna ask the attorney general to jump up just in a moment, but I just want to say many of those critics are people who didn’t stand up to make the laws stronger, they complained an awful lot. They never participated in any of the efforts that we’ve made to try to make public safety better for everybody to make our communities better our neighborhood safer for families. And so the critics can say whatever they want, but this was a significant effort to protect our retailers as well as the people who work at the retail establishments and their customers.

* Raoul: They haven’t gone down. The data that you heard with regards to the tax revenue loss because of specifically organized retail crime, which is what we’re here to discuss today, not crime generally, but organized retail crime has gone up, not only here in Illinois, but nationally. With regards to things like RICO. Any prosecutor’s office, state, county prosecutor’s office will tell you it’s a very difficult thing to navigate. It’s rarely used in the state. That’s why we honed in on language to target this specific criminal activity. You’re talking about crime generally, we can have that debate, but we’re talking about organized retail crime today.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

5 Comments »
  1. - Anonymous - Friday, May 13, 22 @ 12:31 pm:

    Say. rinse. repeat. especially when those who claim that looting does not hurt a business financially spout nonsense. “Organized retail crime is not a victimless crime. It threatens the safety of employees and customers, robs businesses of tax dollars and puts communities at risk of further crime including illegal firearm purchases, human trafficking and even terrorism. We thank Governor Pritzker for signing this important measure into law, creating additional avenues to combat these complex crimes and provide for safer communities,” said Rob Karr, president & CEO, IRMA. “I want to thank Attorney General Raoul for his partnership in combatting the rising issue of organized retail crime, as well as every lawmaker who supported and voted in favor of this measure that will help protect retailers, employees and customers across the state.”


  2. - Amalia - Friday, May 13, 22 @ 12:31 pm:

    sorry, that quote to be repeated was put up by me.


  3. - DuPage Saint - Friday, May 13, 22 @ 12:53 pm:

    Hope it helps. But there are plenty of laws out there and you can write as many new ones that you want but until the laws are prosecuted it doesn’t make a difference. Will organizes retail be a felony or only a misdemeanor if less than $1,000? Since Cook has a prosecutor that amends state law. Probably should be a 1000.00 but that is not her job


  4. - Benjamin - Friday, May 13, 22 @ 12:58 pm:

    This is a much smarter response than merely increasing penalties for the already-illegal crimes. Kudos.


  5. - DuPage - Friday, May 13, 22 @ 1:26 pm:

    Very good that included multi-county and statewide enforcement provisions. If Kim “let’em go” Foxx refuses to prosecute these criminals, the state can do so.


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