Congress has passed a nationwide bill creating a special team in the Department of Justice that would fight organized retail crime, the act of methodically stealing and then reselling merchandise.
Passage of the bill is the latest effort by retailers to draw attention to a problem they say costs stores between $15 and $30 billion a year. The thefts go beyond common shoplifting to encompass criminal rings that can operate across several states and even internationally.
According to Joseph LaRocca, National Retail Federation senior asset protection adviser, “The bill will be one of the keys to protecting both retailers and consumers against the massive economic costs and very real public health and safety risks posed by organized retail crime.”
The bill, sponsored by Rep. Bobby Scott (D-Va.), chairman of a House subcommittee on crime, terrorism and homeland security, provides the Justice Department $5 million annually to establish the crime-fighting team.