Chavez-Deremer: Bill to address 50% rise in organized retail theft

By Oregon Congresswoman Lori Chavez-DeRemer,
Press release

Rep. Lori Chavez-DeRemer (OR-05) recently cosponsored the Combating Organized Retail Crime Act, a bipartisan and bicameral proposal that seeks to target the rise in organized retail crime gangs that have been wreaking havoc on retailers and threatening public safety. Specifically, the legislation establishes a coordinated multi-agency response and creates new tools to tackle evolving trends in organized retail theft.

“Rampant crime has forced too many Oregon businesses to close their doors recently, and I know many shoppers and retailers are forced to be constantly vigilant and concerned for their safety. By helping ensure federal law enforcement has the resources needed to confront the criminal syndicates associated with organized retail crime, this bipartisan and bicameral legislation would take concrete steps to keep our businesses and shoppers safe. There are often many factors involved in Oregon’s retail crimes, including substance abuse and a lack of support for law enforcement, but the Combating Organized Retail Crime Act is certainly a step in the right direction, and I’m proud to support it,”  Chavez-DeRemer said.

Recently, REI became the latest Portland-area business to close due to safety concerns associated with rising crime, with the outlet having its “highest number of break-ins and thefts in two decades” last year.

Organized retail crime costs retailers $720,000 for every $1 billion in sales – up 50 percent since 2015.   As law enforcement focuses on the rise in drug trafficking and other offenses, criminal organizations have increasingly turned to retail crime to generate illicit profits, using internet-based tools to organize flash mobs, sell stolen goods, and move money.

The bipartisan, bicameral Combating Organized Retail Crime Act creates a unified government and industry collaboration to address this trend. The bill establishes a Center to Combat Organized Retail Crime at Homeland Security Investigations that combines expertise from state and local law enforcement agencies as well as retail industry representatives. It also creates new tools to assist in federal investigations and prosecutions of organized retail crime.

The Combating Organized Retail Crime Act is supported by the National Retail Federation, the Retail Industry Leaders Association, International Council of Shopping Centers, and the PASS (Protect America’s Small Sellers) Coalition.

The legislation is being led in the House by Reps. Ken Buck (CO-04), Dina Titus (NV-01), David Joyce (OH-14), and Susie Lee (NV-03). A companion bill has been introduced in the U.S. Senate by Sens. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and Catherine Cortez-Masto (D-Nev.). Full text of the bill is available here