Charles J. Fuschillo Jr.

April 29, 2009

Photo caption: Senator Fuschillo and Assemblyman McDonough view some of the security measures being used by Target to stop organized retail thieves. Organized Retail Theft costs Target an estimated $500 million each year, forcing them to pass the costs onto to consumers in the form of higher prices.

State Senator Charles J. Fuschillo, Jr. (8th Senate District) and Assemblyman David McDonough (19th Assembly District) recently met with members of the Tri-State Organized Retail Council Retail Investigators Association to discuss ways to combat organized retail theft. Representatives from major retailers such as Target, Macy’s, The Gap, J.C. Penny, Wal-Mart, Home Depot, and Stop & Shop, along with several different local law enforcement agencies, participated in the event.

Businesses nationwide lose an estimated $30 billion a year to organized retail theft. They are forced to pass down the costs of these loses down to their customers in the form of higher prices. In addition, New York State loses an estimated $100 million annually in sales taxes on the stolen items.

Organized retail thieves go far beyond normal shoplifting. These highly organized rings are using “booster bags” and other anti-security devices to steal merchandise from store shelves in New York State and throughout the nation.  Virtually everything sold in stores can be a target.  The thieves often focus on over-the-counter drugs, health and beauty aids and clothing of all kinds; items that have a considerable value and are easily fenced at flea markets, pawn shops and ever increasingly through the Internet.  

Senator Fuschillo spoke about legislation he is sponsoring to help stop organized retail theft. The “Anti-Organized Retail Theft Act” would:

* Create new felony crimes to target the ring-leaders of organized retail theft gangs and those who engage in organized retail theft;

* Give prosecutors greater ability to prosecute these thieves across county borders; and   penalties for possessing booster bags or other anti-security items;

* Criminalize the possession of booster bags and other anti-security devices with the intent to use them to steal property; and

* Make it a crime to counterfeit retail sales receipt or universal product codes (UPC) or possess a device that manufactures fraudulent receipts or UPCs.

After the meeting, Senator Fuschillo and Assemblyman McDonough met with representatives from Target to view some of their anti-retail theft security measures. Target officials estimate that retail theft costs their company $500 million a year.

“Honest consumers are being forced to pay for the billions of dollars organized retail thieves steal from businesses each year.  This is a major problem both for consumers and businesses. This meeting was an opportunity to speak with those in the industry about the steps we are taking to stop this crime and figure out new ways we can help prevent organized retail theft,” said Senator Fuschillo.