'Organized Retail Crime Act': Retail crime rings targeted under proposed Illinois law

A new proposal introduced Monday would change Illinois law to combat the growing problem of organized retail crime.

Retailers say Chicago stands at the epicenter of this disturbance.

"Over the past five years, it's grown over 60 percent and we've all born witness as Chicago has become a national epicenter. Despite the hundreds of millions Illinois retailers spend on security every year, we see the result of this unchecked plague everywhere," said Rob Karr, president & CEO, Illinois Retail Merchants Association.

The Illinois Retail Merchants Association and Illinois' attorney general want legislation called the "Organized Retail Crime Act," which would come at this problem from several angles.

"Our goal is to disrupt the criminal enterprises that engage in organized retail crime and send a message to the criminals operations that we will identify them and end the destruction they cause to our communities," said Attorney General Kwame Raoul.


Raoul says we can't treat this like misdemeanor shoplifting anymore. Dangerous crime rings organize these thefts, then often resell the goods to fund drug and human trafficking. Included in his proposal is statewide intelligence gathering, strengthening victims' rights, oversight of websites where stolen goods are sold, and giving prosecutors new tools to nab the criminals – even across jurisdictions.

"We must make sure prosecutors have the resources and the reach needed to hold perpetrators of these complex crimes accountable," said Raoul.

The proposal would require 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.

The proposed law would also dedicate state funds to investigate and prosecute organized retail crime. The "Organized Retail Crime Act" has not yet been formally introduced as a bill.