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The Retail Industry Leaders Association (RILA) applauded the news that a congressional hearing to consider federal organized retail crime (ORC) legislation will take place this autumn. The House Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism and Homeland Security, chaired by Rep. Robert C. “Bobby” Scott, is set to address the issue, which involves sophisticated criminal networks made up of many individuals who steal large quantities of goods from retailers and sell the goods for profit via pawn shops, flea markets and the Internet, costing retailers billions of dollars annually.
“RILA thanks Chairman Scott for his commitment to protecting consumers and retailers victimized by this criminal activity,” said John Emling, SVP for government affairs at Arlington, Va.-based RILA. “This hearing represents an important step forward in the fight against organized retail crime.”
The hearing will deal with two bills currently under consideration in the House of Representatives: the E-fencing Enforcement Act of 2009 (HR 1166), introduced by Scott, which would impose reasonable duties on online marketplaces when there is good reason to believe that items listed for sale were acquired unlawfully, and the Organized Retail Crime Act of 2009 (HR 1173), introduced by Rep. Brad Ellsworth (D-Ind.), which modifies the federal criminal code to include ORC activities, and makes the facilitation of ORC a crime.
This second piece of legislation additionally imposes practical reporting requirements on the operators of online marketplaces and sellers when goods are suspected of having been acquired through ORC.
RILA noted that ORC places consumers at risk when such sensitive stolen goods as baby formula, diabetic test strips and over-the-counter medicine are mishandled or altered, and that criminals have exploited current laws to avoid prosecution.
A survey conducted by the association earlier this year revealed continued ORC growth in the United States, with 72 percent of respondents reporting an increase in such activity in the first four months of 2009.
“Real solutions to the ORC problem, such as those proposed in the bills under consideration, are needed to stop growth of this criminal activity and to protect unsuspecting consumers from the harm it can cause,” said RILA EVP for retail operations Casey Chroust.
In related news, the Combating Organized Retail Crime act of 2009 (S. 470), introduced by Sen. Richard Durbin (D-Ill.) is under consideration in the U.S. Senate.