Sen. Suzy Glowiak Hilton (L) and Sen. Doris Turner (R)

SPRINGFIELD – To offer stability to retailers, bring support to state prosecutors and promote statewide economic growth, State Senator Doris Turner (D-Springfield) joined officials with the Illinois Retail Merchants Association and Attorney General’s office to discuss a legislative proposal to curb Organized Retail Crime in Illinois at a press conference Tuesday.

“As organized retail theft becomes more prevalent across the country, Illinois is responsible for updating its laws to fight back against the uptick and prioritize public safety for its residents, workers and business community,” Turner said. “By creating the Organized Retail Crime Act, our state has an opportunity to enact one of the most comprehensive crime-curbing efforts in the nation.”

In partnership with IRMA and the office of the attorney general, the measure defines Organized Retail Crime as a specific criminal charge and provides prosecutors with additional resources to hold perpetrators accountable. House Bill 1091 codifies ORC as the theft of retail merchandise with intent to sell.

Under the proposal, prosecutors would have additional opportunities to bring charges against offenders regardless of where the crime takes place. For example, if the conspiracy, theft and selling occurred in different jurisdictions, each jurisdiction would have the ability to prosecute the entire crime. The Illinois Attorney General would also have the ability to prosecute via a statewide grand jury.

“The impact of organized retail crime reaches far and wide, leaving fewer tax dollars to fund important government services, threatening the safety of employees and customers and putting our communities at risk of further crime including illegal firearm purchases, human trafficking and even terrorism. Inaction and half measures will not suffice, lest we continue to surrender to criminals exploiting the current loopholes in our laws,” said Rob Karr, president and CEO of the Illinois Retail Merchants Association. “Working in partnership with the Illinois Attorney General’s office, we have helped craft a comprehensive proposal that will bring about real change by investing in law enforcement, holding criminals responsible and making it tougher to resell stolen goods.”

To prevent stolen goods from being sold online, the measure also requires third-party sellers to verify users’ identity with bank account numbers or other information. Sellers who do not comply may be suspended.

House Bill 1091 awaits consideration by the Senate.