Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul targets crime with new legislation

CHICAGO — Recent high-profile retail crimes have rocked Chicago: Tourists are jittery, stores are stepping up security, and commuters are more wary.

Note: the video above is from a previous related report

To combat the thefts, Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul and the Illinois Retail Merchants Association on Monday unveiled a bill that would create a new criminal charge – organized retail crime – and make it easier to investigation and enforcement by prosecutors.

READ MORE: ATMs targeted in 3 smash-and-grabs 20 minutes apart on the northwest side

“Our goal is to disrupt the criminal enterprises that engage in organized crime in the retail industry and send the message to criminal operations that we will identify them and end the destruction they are wreaking on our communities,” he said. said Raoul.

The proposed legislation aims to put an end to retail crimes like recent high-profile incidents on the Magnificent Mile, Oak Brook Center and the Gold Coast, as well as raids directed at goods in transit.

The legislation, dubbed the Organized Retail Crime Act, would target the biggest offenders – those who steal for profit, not those who engage in petty shoplifting.

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“It seeks to close loopholes and outdated provisions in current law that criminals exploit to frustrate and invade law enforcement and prosecution. It addresses not only the means they use to steal, but also the means to monetize. It gives them nowhere to hide, and seeks to dedicate resources to achieve that,” said Rob Karr, president and CEO of the Illinois Retail Merchants Association.

Organized retail crime has increased by 60% between 2015 and 2020, according to research by the National Retail Federation. And retail crime has resulted in approximately $125 billion in lost economic activity, 650,000 fewer jobs, and approximately $15 billion in personal and business tax revenue, not including lost sales tax. , according to a study by the Retail Industry Leaders Association.

The proposed bill would make it harder for criminals to flee their crimes by allowing county state prosecutors to charge suspects with the entire theft network, instead of just the part that occurred in their respective county. It also allows the Attorney General to indict those involved in organized retail crime through a statewide grand jury.

MORE: Video captures thieves stealing jewelery from Gold Coast dealership

“This type of crime is not limited to a municipality, to a county. It crosses jurisdictions. And so we are trying to solve this problem,” Raoul said.

Part of the bill mirrors legislation also proposed at the federal level that would add a barrier to criminals selling their loot online, requiring high-volume sellers in online marketplaces to verify their identity.

Many criminals coordinate to sell many high-value items, and the funds are often used to fund drug trafficking and human trafficking, Raoul said.

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The bill would also create new jobs specifically dedicated to investigating and prosecuting retail theft in the Attorney General’s office and various state attorney offices, continue a public-private partnership between the office of the Attorney General and private stakeholders already launched by the Organized Retail Crime Task Force and require courts to notify victims of organized retail crime at least seven days prior to court proceedings.

“We need to ensure that prosecutors have the resources and the reach to hold the perpetrators of these complex crimes accountable,” Raoul said.

The legislation has not yet received sponsorship, but is expected to be submitted to the state legislature soon, Karr said.

(Source: Sun-Times Media Wire – Copyright Chicago Sun-Times 2021.)

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