Organized Retail Crime is Being Targeted
Robbery and Organized Crime will be moving to the floor after the House Judiciary Committee passed a substitute for House Bill 234 with a vote of 8-2.
This Bill Substitute outlines additional penalties for shoplifting and creates the crimes of Aggravated Shoplifting and Organized Retail Crime.
A penalty for an individual that has engaged in shoplifting more than once over a 90 day period at one or multiple retailers may be charged with the combined cost of the items taken.
Shoplifting more than 500 dollars worth of merchandise would begin felony sentencing.
Juveniles are not subjected to adult penalties under this bill.
Aggravated shoplifting is assaulting or striking at another with a deadly weapon while in the act of shoplifting or while leaving the retail establishment after shoplifting.
The Bill’s Expert Witness, Shawn Sullivan, prosecutor for the Attorney General's Office, had this to say of Aggravated Shoplifting.
“I think what we're seeing on the ground and really trying to attack with this legislation is shoplifting with weapons. That's really the concern that we're seeing with folks going into stores either possessing weapons, pulling out weapons, or brandishing weapons. What we think this does is narrowly tailor and target those individuals that are using those weapons.”
Aggravated shoplifting draws a third degree felony.
Bill sponsor Representative Marian Matthews explains the target of this legislation.
“We wanted to be very sure that we address the gang aspect of shoplifting and we do that by creating the crime Organized Retail Crime aimed directly at gangs and allow the aggregation of the amount stolen over one year from one or more retailers.”
Organized Retail Crime is established when a person acts in concert with one or more people to procure $2,500 of items within a year from one or more retailers, as well as managing or coordinating the thiefs, or being involved in the purchase of these items.
Committing Organized Retail Crime results in a second degree felony.