Senate Passes Bill Targeting Professional Shoplifters and Other Organized Retail Criminals

Michael Venditto

April 27, 2015

Bill Would Give Law Enforcement More Authority to Curtail Costly Retail Theft

The New York State Senate today passed legislation (S3822) sponsored by Senator Michael Venditto (R-C-I, Massapequa) to crack down on criminals who try to avoid harsher penalties by committing retail thefts in multiple counties. The bill would allow any county in the state to prosecute someone who participates in a pattern of organized retail theft when at least one of the offenses occurs in a neighboring county.

Senator Venditto, Chairman of the Senate Consumer Protection Committee, said, “This bill is part of a package of legislation that seeks to cut down on patterns of criminal activity that rise to the level of ‘organized retail crimes.’ Organized retail crimes are not victimless. It is the consumers who pay for others’ thievery. This legislation, passed today, gives our District Attorneys another tool in prosecuting organized retail crimes that occur in contiguous counties.”

According to the FBI, United States retailers lose approximately $30 billion each year due to highly organized criminals. In New York, organized retail theft costs local retailers hundreds of millions of dollars annually and endangers the health, safety, and welfare of consumers. Retailers are forced to offset these significant losses through higher prices, with honest consumers ultimately paying the cost.

Professional shoplifters and others who participate in organized retail theft are aware of jurisdictional limitations under current state law and avoid committing multiple offenses in the same county to evade harsher penalties. Today’s bill closes this loophole by expanding a county’s ability to prosecute organized retail crimes that occur in a contiguous county. To give law enforcement officials another tool to curb organized retail crime, one criminal court would be granted jurisdiction over the criminal offenses, people, and property that form a pattern of retail theft.

The bill will be sent to the Assembly.

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