"This new law represents another important step to fight crime and advance public safety in Illinois," Pritzker said. "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."
The bill, also known as the INFORM Act, is intended to close prosecution loopholes that have been letting thieves off the hook by allowing the Illinois Attorney General to seat a statewide grand jury that could issue indictments for organized retail theft.
A state's attorney in one county could indict organized criminal ring leaders for retail theft in multiple counties, and a new agency would be created specifically to combat organized retail theft gangs.
Pritzker said anyone who knowingly engages with other in a retail theft of $300 or more would be guilty of a Class 3 felony. Individuals who steal merchandise from one or more retail stores would be guilty of a Class 2 felony.
The bill also requires online marketplaces to verify the identity of third-party sellers by using bank account numbers or taxpayer IDs. Sellers who don't have valid contact information could have their accounts suspended.
"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," Attorney General Kwame Raoul said in a statement.
Chicago has seen a number of store closures over the past year, and constant smash-and-grab robberies.
Last December, Raoul’s Organized Retail Crime Task Force recovered $1 million worth of stolen goods from storage units, according to a statement from the governor's office. Raoul said money received from the sale of stolen goods are then used to fund "serious criminal activities."
"Serious criminal activities, including gunrunning and drug trafficking, have been funded using proceeds from the sales of merchandise stolen through organized retail crimes," Raoul said in a statement.
The Illinois Retail Merchants Association and restaurant association both pushed for the new law to be passed. The bill also received bi-partisan support in Springfield.
The new legislation goes into effect Jan. 1, 2023.