As “smash-and-grab” robberies continue to terrorize consumers and retailers, House Republican Leader Jim Durkin (R-Western Springs) has filed legislation targeting the organized theft rings behind these headline-grabbing crimes.
“Smash-and-grab retail theft has become disturbingly commonplace and these criminals are only becoming more brazen,” said Durkin. “These crimes have many victims, from the people who own and operate these stores, to their employees and customers. We cannot let this stand. These criminals are sophisticated and organized like the street gangs that terrorize our communities and must be treated the same.”
Retailers, from small mom and pop stores to large companies, lost between $3.7 and $4 billion worth of merchandise to retail theft in Illinois alone last year, according to a recent report from the Illinois Retail Merchants Association. Additionally, billions in stolen goods means the state loses out on millions in sales tax revenue. These thieves are not reselling on street corners or out of car trunks, but through anonymous online marketplaces.
Durkin’s legislation, House Bill 4275, creates the crime of organized retail theft, a felony punishable by up to 15 years in jail if the value of the stolen goods is more than the state’s current felony threshold of $300.
Under Durkin’s proposal, a person commits organized retail theft when they:
- Work with one or more people to steal merchandise with the intent of selling or returning the merchandise for profit.
- Work with two or more people to receive, purchase or possess merchandise they believe to be stolen.
- Act as an agent of another individual or group of individuals to steal merchandise from one or more merchant’s premises as part of an organized plan to commit theft.
- Recruit, coordinate, organize, supervise, direct, manage or finance another person to undertake any of these actions.
Durkin’s legislation also allows for organized retail theft to be charged in one of several locations. Charges can be brought either where the theft took place, where the merchandise was recovered, or where stolen merchandise was resold. For instance, if a store on Michigan Avenue was robbed, but the organized crime ring attempted to sell the stolen goods in DuPage County, the crime could be charged in Cook or DuPage County.
“State’s Attorney Foxx and Governor Pritzker continue to coddle criminals and disregard the victims of their crimes. It is time we reset our criminal justice system and hold those who disregard our laws accountable. Our citizens and our merchants are desperate for action,” said Durkin.