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NC Retail Merchants Tout New Laws to Combat Organized Theft

Raleigh, NC (June 30, 2022) – The North Carolina Retail Merchants Association (NCRMA), along with its 2,500 retail members across the state, applauds the bipartisan passage of a new law to combat organized retail theft. This new law, recently signed by Governor Roy Cooper, will be another major step to combat organized retail crime (ORC), which costs retailers an average of $720,000 per $1 billion in sales annually and has been identified as a leading factor in increasing costs and safety concerns for consumers and retail employees.

Senate Bill 766 “Organized Retail Theft” would not have become law without the diligent work of the legislative sponsors. Senators Danny Britt (R-Robeson), Tom McInnis (R-Anson), and Dave Craven (R-Guilford) sponsored Senate Bill 766 (SB 766) and shepherded it through the Senate. Representatives Jamie Boles (R-Moore), Ted Davis (R-New Hanover), Allen McNeill (R-Moore) and Carson Smith (R-Columbus), who introduced the companion bill in the House, helped usher SB 766 through the House. House Minority Leader Representative Robert Reives (D-Chatham) and Senator Mujtaba Mohammed (D-Mecklenburg) were also instrumental in their efforts to ensure the passage of this legislation in both the House and Senate.

“I’m proud of the work we’ve accomplished in passing this legislation to crack down on criminals who have made it their career to steal from North Carolina businesses. SB 766 is tough on crime, but, at its core, this is a bill to protect hard-working North Carolinians from organized retail crime,” said Senator Britt.

The new law, supported by NCRMA, focuses on the growing problem of organized retail theft, which is defined as “the involvement of two or more persons working in concert to illegally obtain retail merchandise in substantial quantities, through theft or fraud, with the intent to re-sell items for financial gain.”

Regarding his efforts to champion this legislation through the House, Representative Boles commented, “SB 766 cracks down on organized retail theft not only in our brick-and-mortar stores, but through online third-party sellers as well. Through our efforts to approach ORC on two fronts, I’m confident we will curtail the activity of these career criminals who are hurting both the family-owned businesses and chain stores across our State. Employees in these establishments deserve to work in a safe environment without fear of attack for doing their job.”

Upon signing SB 766 into law, Governor Cooper made the following statement: “Organized store theft is a growing problem in North Carolina, costing consumers and retailers. These stronger penalties should deter thieves and help combat these crimes.”

The new law is a two-pronged effort to address the issue of ORC through the protection of businesses and consumers. Specifically, the provisions in SB 766 increase criminal penalties when ORC rings steal large amounts of merchandise from multiple stores within a 90-day timeframe and when they damage property or assault an employee or law enforcement officer in the act of stealing. These increased criminal penalties were implemented to deter the act of organized retail theft and protect retail businesses. Other provisions in the legislation mirror the federal INFORM Act which is pending in Congress and requires online marketplaces to verify information of third-party sellers using their sales platform to protect consumers from both purchasing stolen items and providing their personal contact information to these criminal enterprises.

“We appreciate the effort of the General Assembly and Governor Cooper in helping North Carolina’s retailers and recognizing the growing problem of ORC and the financial burden it places on our retailers which, unfortunately, is often passed on to our customers,” said Andy Ellen, president and general counsel of NCRMA. “Creating new ways to charge career criminals who are active in organized retail crime will not only provide a deterrent, but also a way to get these criminals off the streets and out of our stores.”

NCRMA has remained diligent in its advocacy efforts to combat organized retail crime in North Carolina and is thankful to the Conference of District Attorneys for their help and input in drafting this legislation which is now law. We would also like to thank the NC Sheriffs Association and the NC Association of Chiefs of Police for their support throughout this process.In addition to its own efforts, in 2016, NCRMA created the Carolinas Organized Retail Crime Alliance (CORCA), an alliance between law enforcement, retailers, and other important partners, focused on combating the rise of retail crime in both North and South Carolina. This network of professionals serves to protect and educate consumers, while acting as a resource to partnering law enforcement agencies and retailers in both states.

ORC is not only a crime against property, but a crime against people. NCRMA applauds the passage of SB 766 which takes action to stop ORC and prevent it from happening in the future while protecting businesses and consumers in North Carolina.

Amanda Wujcik
Author: Amanda Wujcik

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