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Retail industry groups expressed satisfaction with the House of Representatives’ passage of the Organized Retail Crime Theft Investigation and Prosecution Act of 2010 (H.R. 5932). Reps. Bobby Scott (D-Va,), John Conyers (D-Mich.), Lamar Smith (R-Texas) and Bob Goodlatte (R-Va,) sponsored the bipartisan bill.
“Our customers’ health and safety are at risk when criminals steal over-the-counter medications, diabetic supplies, infant formula and more from stores and then resell these products at flea markets, pawn shops and on internet auction sites,” noted Leslie G. Sarasin, president and CEO of Arlington, Va.-based Food Marketing Institute (FMI). “Creating a special unit at the Department of Justice to investigate and prosecute members of organized retail crime rings is crucial to combating this very serious criminal problem.”
The legislation will additionally provide assistance to state and local law enforcement agencies to use against organized retail theft (ORT), a component of the illegal activity known as organized retail crime (ORC), which costs retailers around $30 billion in merchandise annually. These losses are passed down to consumers in the form on higher prices as retailer attempt to recoup these losses, and states lose about $1.6 billion in sales tax revenue on account of ORC.
Items most commonly targeted by ORC rings include baby formula, diabetic test strips and over-the-counter medicine, which are often mishandled, thereby compromising the products’ safety and reliability.
John Emling, SVP of government affairs at Arlington-based Retail Industry Leaders Association (RILA), described the bill’s passage as “a critical first step … toward combating organized retail crime.” Lisa LaBruno, RILA’s VP of loss prevention & legal affairs, added that the organization was committed to working with government and other groups on further legislation addressing ORT prevention.
The industry mood may have been congratulatory, but, as pointed out by the Washington-based Coalition Against Organized Retail Crime (CAORC), which comprises 37 national manufacturers and retailers, along with individual companies, an important hurdle still remains before the bill is signed into law. “We encourage the Senate to help put ORC criminals out of business by passing the legislation before the end of the year,” the group said.