Organized retail crime accounted for more than $112 billion in losses in 2022. But the criminals behind those losses aren’t being held accountable, largely because retail crimes are going unreported. Organized retail crime involves coordinated gangs of thieves taking large amounts of goods for resale and has surged 26.5% since the pandemic.
An estimated 50% of organized retail crime goes unreported, leaving many of those responsible for the crime free of accountability for their actions. The National Retail Federation and others believe this is because the value of the items has to meet a high threshold before it becomes a felony and will therefore not typically result in a prison sentence. Texas and Wisconsin currently have the highest thresholds at $2,500 while New Jersey has the lowest at $200.
Detective Mike Zacher, who investigates property crimes in the Portland metro area said, “There are several reasons for this resistance to reporting, the most significant being that retailers may have seen little to no response from law enforcement in certain jurisdictions in the past. This lack of response may be due to several factors for law enforcement, including understaffing, higher priority calls for service and lack of follow-up from past theft reports. Loss prevention and associates at retailers may have their own internal rules and regulations regarding contacting the police or security.”
These factors make retailers less likely to report the incidents if they happen again. The underreporting, in turn, makes it more difficult for law enforcement officers to link suspects who may have been involved in multiple cases and for lawmakers to get the data they need to pass necessary reforms.
The Combating Organized Retail Crime Act of 2023 is working to fix the reporting problem. This national legislation currently being considered intends to rectify the current lack of coordination among agencies, enabling a more expedient resolution of this problem by giving it the attention it deserves.
By granting authority to those with the greatest capacity to take action, this bill alleviates the burden on businesses, employers, and the financial strain on consumers and families. Most importantly, it will curb theft by enforcing accountability for the organizers rather than solely apprehending the easily replaceable boosters who are in the store stealing items.
Let’s hold the true culprits responsible and pass legislation that creates a meaningful impact.