WASHINGTON, July 28, 2022 – The National Retail Federation today presented the J. Thomas Weyant…
Raleigh, NC (December 1, 2022) – Organized retail crime will not be tolerated in North Carolina was the message sent today by representatives of the North Carolina Retail Merchants Association (NCRMA), North Carolina Conference of District Attorneys (NC CODA), North Carolina Sheriffs’ Association (NCSA), North Carolina Association of Chiefs of Police (NCACP), the North Carolina Information Sharing and Analysis Center (NC ISAAC) and the Carolinas Organized Retail Crime Alliance (CORCA). These organizations, and the members they represent, applaud the passage of a new law to combat organized retail theft, effective December 1, 2022. The legislation is likely the strongest of its kind in the country and will be another major step to combat organized retail crime (ORC). These organizations are committed to work together to prevent these crimes and make certain this criminal activity is prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.
Organized retail crime now costs retailers an average of $720,000 per $1 billion in sales and in 2020 alone three-fourths of retailers saw an increase in organized retail crime according to the National Retail Federation’s 2020 Organized Retail Crime Survey. ORC has been identified as a leading factor in increasing costs and safety concerns for consumers and retail employees. According to “The Impact of Organized Retail Crime and Product Theft in the United States”:
• 86% of retailers surveyed said an ORC subject has verbally threatened an associate,
• 75.9% said an ORC subject has physically assaulted an associate, and
• 41% said an ORC subject has used a weapon to harm an associate
The ORC legislation would not have become law without the bi-partisan work of many legislators. Senate Bill 766 “Organized Retail Theft” was sponsored by Senators Danny Britt (R-Robeson), Tom McInnis (R-Anson), and Dave Craven (R-Guilford). A House companion bill was sponsored by Representatives Jamie Boles (R-Moore), Ted Davis (R-New Hanover), Allen McNeill (R-Moore) and Carson Smith (R-Columbus) who ushered SB 766 through the House. It was due to the diligent work of these bill sponsors, in collaboration with House Majority Leader Robert Reives (D-Chatham) and Senator Mujtaba Mohammed (D-Mecklenburg), that ensured its passage through committee and floor votes in their respective chambers.
The new law 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.” Under previous North Carolina law, a person is guilty of a Class H felony if they conspire with another person to steal more than $1,500 worth of merchandise combined from one or more retail establishments over a ninety-day period. The crime is elevated to a Class G felony if a person conspires to steal more than $20,000 worth of merchandise from one or more retail establishments over a ninety-day period. The new law is a two-pronged effort to address the issue of ORC through the protection of businesses and consumers. SB 766 increases criminal penalties when ORC rings steal large amounts of merchandise from stores and requires online marketplaces to verify information of third-party sellers active on their marketplace platform.
“We appreciate the effort of the General Assembly and Governor Cooper to help North Carolina’s retailers by 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.”
Specifically, the provisions included in the first half of the bill, effective December 1, will elevate to a Class F felony any ORC resulting in theft of retail property from one or more retail establishments with a $50,000-$99,000 aggregated value over a 90-day period and a Class C felony any ORC resulting in theft or retail property from one or more retail establishments with a $100,000 or more aggregated value over a 90-day period. The bill also elevates to a class A1 misdemeanor any act of ORC with a value of stolen property exceeding $1,000 if it results in damage, destruction, or defacing of real or personal property in excess of $1,000. An act of ORC which results in assault and battery against an employee or independent contractor of the retail establishment, or a law enforcement officer is also classified as an A1 misdemeanor. The bill further updates a civil right of restitution by removing the cap on compensatory and consequential damages a business can recover for the loss of stolen property or property that is damaged in the theft and includes a provision allowing property to be documented so it can be submitted into evidence at trial and then returned to its rightful owners.
The second half of this legislation, effective January 1, 2023 mirrors INFORM Act legislation which has been filed at the federal level with bi-partisan sponsors and has already been enacted in states including Alabama, Arkansas, Colorado, Georgia, Illinois, Ohio, Oklahoma, and is awaiting signing in Louisiana. The provisions require online marketplaces to verify information of third-party sellers that are selling on their marketplace platform and will make it harder for illegitimate crime rings to sell stolen goods to consumers and ensure that legitimate small businesses can continue to sell goods online. Specifically, online marketplaces will be required to annually verify, and disclose to consumers, information for high-volume third-party sellers defined as people conducting 200 or more sales of new, unused consumer goods in North Carolina over a 12-month period totaling over $5,000. If a high-volume, third-party seller provides false information or fails to provide the required information, then the marketplace is required, per the legislation, to suspend the seller from their marketplace until the seller complies with the verification requirements.
“Our district attorneys have strong tools to prosecute members of organized retail crime organizations should they try to carry out “smash and grabs” or flash mob shoplifting activities in North Carolina. Preventing this activity is key to maintaining safe communities and a strong economy. It’s important for prosecutors to adopt a zero-tolerance policy on these smash and grab robberies. As prosecutors, we must stand with our business communities and law enforcement supporting retail merchants and sending a strong message to would-be thieves,” said Forsyth County District Attorney Jim O’Neill who serves as president of the NC Conference of District Attorneys.
“In addition to conducting larceny and breaking and entering operations on a massive scale, organized retail crime rings are often involved in other criminal activity within the community, including drug related crimes, money laundering and human trafficking just to name a few. Our 100 Sheriffs’ offices across the State recognize the seriousness of these crimes and are committed to working with others in law enforcement and district attorneys to put these brazen criminals behind bars,” Charles Blackwood, president of the NC Sheriffs’ Association stated.
“Police chiefs place great emphasis on stopping organized retail crime because of its ties to the illegal drug trade and other illicit activity. We recognize that criminals are more brazen and violent when attacking businesses,” the North Carolina Association of Chiefs of Police said in a statement. “Our police chiefs don’t want this increased criminal activity to move into our cities and towns in North Carolina and are working collaboratively with retail loss prevention professionals and others in law enforcement to stop it.”
“As the nation’s attention has focused on organized retail crime, NC ISAAC and its national network of fusion centers will support North Carolina’s local, state, and federal law enforcement agencies, law enforcement associations and major retail associations through information sharing and analytical support,” said NC ISAAC Director/Special Agent in Charge B.C. Neil.
ORC is not only a crime against property, but a crime against people. These groups collectively applaud the passage of SB 766 which takes action to stop this activity and prevent it from happening in the future while protecting businesses and consumers in North Carolina.
About the North Carolina Retail Merchants Association
The North Carolina Retail Merchants Association (NCRMA) is a nonprofit trade association organized in 1902 to improve the business climate for retailers in North Carolina. Over 100 years later, NCRMA remains the voice of the retail industry for North Carolina. NCRMA represents the interests of individual merchants before the General Assembly and serves as a vital link to state government. Its credibility lies in its longevity and commitment to serving the ever-changing needs of its members. The Association’s membership includes more than 25,000 stores from across the state whose business represents 75 percent of North Carolina’s retail sales volume. NCRMA serves both large and small retailers from multi-state chains to local “mom and pops” and all types of merchants including antique, apparel, art, automotive, book, carpet, department, drug, electronics, floral, furniture, grocery, hardware, jewelry, paint and variety stores. For more information, visit www.ncrma.org.
NCRMA Contact: Andy Ellen
NCRMA President and General Counsel
919-832-0811 • firstname.lastname@example.org
About the North Carolina Conference of District Attorneys
The North Carolina Conference of District Attorneys was established as a state agency in 1983 under General Statute §7A-411, “to assist in improving the administration of justice in North Carolina by coordinating the prosecution efforts of the various district attorneys, by assisting them in the administration of their offices…”
The agency consists of, and is governed by Elected District Attorneys and has a staff in Raleigh to carry out their goals and objectives. Primary responsibilities of the Conference include, but are not limited to, the following: Prosecution Support, Executive Development, Research and Public Outreach. District Attorneys in educating the general public on issues surrounding impaired driving, domestic violence, victims’ rights and other issues. For more information, visit www.ncdistrictattorney.org.
NC CODA Contact: Jim O’Neill
Forsyth County District Attorney and President of NC CODA
About the North Carolina Sheriffs’ Association
The North Carolina Sheriffs’ Association serves as the statewide voice for North Carolina’s 100 constitutionally elected sheriffs to protect, promote, preserve, and enhance the Office of Sheriff in North Carolina through education, training, and legislative initiatives that increase public safety and protect the rights of the citizens of North Carolina. For more information, visit www.ncsheriffs.org.
NCSA Contact: Eddie Caldwell
Executive Vice President and General Counsel
919-459-1052 • email@example.com
About the North Carolina Association of Chiefs of Police
The North Carolina Association of Chiefs of Police was created to provide a favorable environment in which the Chiefs of North Carolina may educate and improve themselves professionally; recognize outstanding achievements in their profession and association and its allied groups through researching and distributing information and maintaining a resource contact system of its members; conduct meetings; and retain competent counsel to advise and represent the membership and its interests. For more information, visit www.ncacp.org.
About the North Carolina Information Sharing and Analysis Center
The North Carolina Information Sharing and Analysis Center works with local, state and federal law enforcement agencies in the fight against terrorism and criminal activity by sharing information. ISAAC develops actionable intelligence on immediate and emerging threats and shares it with its first responders, private sector, emergency management, critical infrastructure, and federal, state, local, and tribal partners in a timely manner. For more information, visit www.ncsbi.gov/NCISAAC.
NC ISAAC Contact: B.C. Neil
NC ISAAC Director / Special Agent in Charge
919-716-1111 • BNeil@ncsbi.gov
About the Carolinas Organized Retail Crime Alliance
Officially launched in February 2016, CORCA is a partnership between law enforcement and retail loss prevention officers to combat organized retail crime in the Carolinas. It is a division of the Retail Consumer Alliance Foundation, within the North and South Carolina State Retail Associations and is supported by the retail associations along with the Carolinas Food Industry Council. CORCA was created to bridge communication between retailers and law enforcement – helping identify offenders and resolve organized retail crime cases in the Carolinas. For more information, visit www.corca.org.