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Grassley-Cortez Masto Bill Bolsters Federal Response To Organized Retail Theft

WASHINGTON – New legislation from Senate Judiciary Committee Ranking Member Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.) targets the rise in flash mob robberies and intricate retail theft schemes sweeping the nation. The Combatting Organized Retail Crime Act establishes a coordinated multi-agency response and creates new tools to tackle evolving trends in organized retail theft.
“Stores throughout American communities have not been spared from a national crime wave. These organized theft rings have been developing new tactics to pilfer goods, causing economic harm to American businesses and putting consumers at risk while funding transnational criminal organizations throughout the world. These criminals are exploiting the internet and online marketplaces to stay one step ahead of the law, and it’s time the law catches up. This bill improves our federal response to organized retail crime and establishes new tools to recover goods and illicit proceeds, and deter future attacks on American retailers,” Grassley said.
“Law enforcement must have access to the tools they need to crack down on organized crime groups that target shops and retailers in Nevada and across the country. My bipartisan legislation will do just that by going after large-scale criminal schemes and working with the retail industry to deter, detect, and prosecute these crimes,” Cortez Masto said.
Organized retail crime costs retailers $720,000 for every $1 billion in sales – up 50 percent since 2015. As law enforcement focuses on the rise in drug trafficking and other offenses, criminal organizations have increasingly turned to retail crime to generate illicit profits, using internet-based tools to organize flash mobs, sell stolen goods and move money.
The bipartisan Combatting Organized Retail Crime Act creates a unified government and industry collaboration to address this trend. The bill establishes a Center to Combat Organized Retail Crime at Homeland Security Investigations that combines expertise from state and local law enforcement agencies as well as retail industry representatives. It also creates new tools to assist in federal investigation and prosecution of organized retail crime, and help recover lost goods and proceeds.
The Combatting Organized Retail Crime Act is supported by the National Retail Federation, the Retail Industry Leaders Association, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Innovating Commerce Serving Communities, the Peace Officers Research Association of California, and the Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association.
“We applaud Senator Grassley for introducing the Combatting Organized Retail Crime Act of 2022. Organized Retail Crime (ORC) is a multi-billion-dollar problem impacting the retail industry and jeopardizing the safety of associates and customers. According to NRF’s 2022 National Retail Security Survey, retailers reported a 26.5% increase in ORC, on average. Perhaps more concerning, retailers also noted an increase in violence and aggression associated with ORC over the past year. The Act will establish a new Organized Retail Crime Coordination Center to align counter-ORC activities nationally and internationally by developing a national-level ORC intelligence perspective, facilitating information-sharing and cross-agency investigations, and serving as a center of expertise for training and technical assistance. This coordination is a critical step for retailers to effectively combat these criminal activities,” said the National Retail Federation.
“The alarming rise in organized retail crime that we are seeing in communities across the country is putting employees and customers in harms’ way. The legislation Senator Grassley introduced today is a crucial step in tackling this growing, complex problem. By establishing a federal task force to help track and prosecute criminals, we can increase collaboration and transparency among stakeholders, and help curb what has become a $69 billion problem for American businesses. Homeland Security has tracked the proceeds from selling stolen goods online to other nefarious criminal activities such as human trafficking, gun smuggling, narcotics and terrorism.  It is vital that federal law enforcement focus attention on this growing problem, and a task force to align the resources of the federal government is an important step in this effort,” the Retail Industry Leaders Association said.
“Organized retail crime is leading to more brazen and more violent attacks in retail stores and centers throughout the country, putting employees and consumers at risk. In light of the increased number of attacks and lost revenue, we’re pleased that this legislation will broaden the statutes dealing with the transport of stolen goods and provide additional resources to law enforcement at both the federal and state level,” stated Tom McGee, President and CEO of ICSC.
“Organized retail crime has a devastating impact on businesses and communities. It is particularly harmful for small businesses that lack the resources to recover and employees and customers who are traumatized by the interactions. As these crimes increase, law enforcement is seeing perpetrators become more violent and more brazen, leaving business workers in the harrowing position of choosing between their livelihoods and their lives. Law enforcement must be equipped with the tools to reverse this criminal trend. We applaud Senator Grassley and Senator Cortez Masto for introducing this legislation so federal law enforcement can better work with state and local partners and industry to combat organized retail crime.” Federal Law Enforcement Officers of America National President Larry Cosme said.
In December of 2021, Grassley called on the Justice Department and Department of Homeland Security to prioritize response to organized retail crimes.
Legislative text is available HERE.  A summary of is available HERE.