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Illinois Considers Anti-Crime Legislation

By Alec Laird, MHA Illinois Lobbyist and Vice President, Government Relations for the Illinois Retail Merchants Association

The Illinois Retail Merchants Association (IRMA) and Illinois Office of Attorney General (OAG) have collaborated to create a comprehensive legislative package to address organized retail crime (ORC) in Illinois. The Illinois General Assembly is set to consider the legislation package prior to the scheduled adjournment of April 8th. The package includes the following elements:

  1. Focuses on Organized Retail Crime The proposal creates and specifically defines a violation of organized retail crime (ORC). ORC is usually committed by an individual or individuals who work together to steal merchandise and resell the item(s) for profit to fund other illegal activities such as gun, drug, and human trafficking.
  2. Deters Smash-and-Grab Thefts Smash-and-grab thefts occur when a group of individuals rush into a retailer and destroy retail property or threaten retail team members while stealing a great amount of inventory in a short period of time. This sometimes involves the use of vehicles and other tools to gain entry into the retailer or to the merchandise.
  3. Deters Supply Chain Thefts Individuals are increasingly involved in stealing merchandise while it is in transit between the manufacture and distributor and the retailer or between the retailer and the consumer. This involves raiding delivery vehicles while packages are being delivered. It also includes raiding cargo containers on trains.
  4. Reduces Criminals’ Ability to Avoid Prosecution
    • The proposal provides jurisdiction to any state’s attorney where any element of ORC takes place to prosecute the whole crime. For instance, if the conspiracy, theft, and selling all occurred in different jurisdictions, each jurisdiction would have the ability to prosecute the whole crime. It also provides the Attorney General the use of the statewide grand jury to prosecute ORC.
    • If cell phones or the internet are utilized to plan and carry-out ORC, any state’s attorney may have jurisdiction to bring action.
    • The proposal allows the Illinois Attorney General the flexibility to also pursue RICO charges against Illinois and multi-state criminals.
  5. Provides Dedicated Enforcement Resources The proposal seeks to provide annual funds to the Office of the Attorney General for additional investigators and attorneys to focus exclusively on ORC. It also provides grant money to states attorneys across Illinois whose communities tend to be the focus of ORC. This grant money will be used to add additional states attorneys dedicated exclusively to ORC.
  6. Addresses Online Fencing ORC rings increasingly use technology and the anonymity of online third-party marketplaces to sell their stolen goods. The proposal requires online third-party marketplaces to verify the seller and the goods offered for sale and the seller to provide contact information. This action will help police outlets used to monetize stolen merchandise, which often funds other illicit activities including gun, drug and human trafficking. The proposal mirrors an agreement that was reached on the federal level by stakeholders and currently sponsored by U.S. Senator Dick Durbin and Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky.
  7. Enhances Public and Private Coordination The proposal calls for a formal collaboration of all stakeholders involved in addressing ORC. The collaboration is designed to provide real-time information and intelligence-sharing and collaboration between asset protection investigators and federal, state, and local law enforcement partners involved in combating ORC related issues at the local, regional, and national levels
  8. Requires Timely and Proper Notice The proposal requires timely and accurate notice of court proceeding to retailers that are victims of ORC, ensuring they can participate in the legal process.
Illinois, like many states, has seen a spike in crime in the last few years. If Illinois passes the ORC package it will become the 35th state to pass legislation addressing organized retail crime.

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