A bipartisan group of lawmakers in Congress has introduced a plan to address the surge in organized retail theft across the United States. Senators Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.) joined forces to propose a bill that would establish a centralized agency to assist law enforcement in investigating and prosecuting retail thieves, regardless of state boundaries. The proposed legislation aims to apply consistent penalties for retail theft, ensuring that the consequences remain the same regardless of the location of the crime.
According to the National Retail Federation, store theft has increased by 20% from 2021 to 2022, resulting in losses exceeding $112 billion for retailers. While the rise in theft began during the pandemic, lawmakers do not attribute it to rising prices. Former prosecutor and Representative Glenn Ivey (D-Md.) emphasized that retail theft rings have persisted for decades, unaffected by economic cycles. He further highlighted that these thefts are not solely property crimes, as they often result in injuries and, in some cases, fatalities.
Lawmakers argue that federal intervention is necessary to safeguard businesses and communities from the detrimental impact of organized retail theft. Ivey expressed concern that some stores, including grocery stores, may face closure due to the losses they are experiencing. The bill currently enjoys the support of nearly 80 lawmakers in both the House and Senate, although additional support is needed for it to pass.