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Senate Approves Bill To Outlaw "Boosting"


State Senator Charles J. Fuschillo, Jr. today announced that the Senate has approved legislation that he sponsors that would create penalties for professional shoplifters who use "booster" bags or other anti-security devices to steal from stores.

"Booster bags" are anti-security devices used by highly organized shoplifting rings to steal millions of dollars worth of merchandise from store shelves in New York State. The bags look like ordinary shopping bags, but are lined with tinfoil designed to block the signal from the anti-theft sensors on store merchandise. The bags, which can be made in minutes, allow thieves to quickly clear the shelves of merchandise and leave the store without tripping security sensors. Tens of thousands of dollars worth of items can be stolen in less than a half hour. The thieves resell their stolen merchandise at stores, flea markets and on-line sites.

Boosting is having a huge impact on the New York retail industry, resulting in higher prices for consumers. It is estimated that merchant losses nationwide from organized retail theft total over $30 billion annually. Retailers are forced to offset these significant costs through higher prices.

Senator Fuschillo (Merrick, 8th Senate District), Chairman of the Senate Standing Committee on Consumer Protection, said, "These well-organized networks of trained thieves are committing crimes that are very costly to consumers. Currently, it is not a crime in New York State to own booster bags or other devices to throw off security. The legislation that Senate approved today would establish penalties for possession of these anti-security devices that are being used solely to rip off retailers."

The legislation is supported by the Retail Council of New York State. "The Retail Council of New York State applauds the Senate’s action today and appreciates Senator Fuschillo’s leadership in writing and passing this important new bill," said Retail Council President and CEO James R. Sherin. "Senator Fuschillo joined the Retail Council last week at our day-long conference on organized retail theft, where he underscored his commitment to giving retailers the tools they need to put a lid on the extraordinary costs of theft to retailers and consumers alike. His ‘booster bag’ ban is a tremendous step forward in that fight, and we thank him for the hard work."

Specifically, the legislation (S. 5153) would establish the crime of possession of a bag or other device that blocks or overrides security markings, tags, or attachments as a class A misdemeanor punishable by up to a year in prison.

Photo caption: Senator Fuschillo discusses his legislation to create penalties for "boosting" with Ted Potrikus, Executive Vice President of the Retail Cuoncil of New York State, duringthe Senator's"legislative update" television show.