NRF urges Congress to advance retail crime legislation

U.S. Capitol
NRF wants Congress to advance anti-retail organized crime legislation.

Congress is reviewing a new act that would increase resources and law enforcement cooperation to combat organized retail crime.

The National Retail Federation (NRF) is formally urging Congress to formally advance the Combating Organized Retail Crime Act, which would amplify resources and coordination among federal, state and local law enforcement agencies to address organized retail crime (ORC). 

The House Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on Crime and Federal Government Surveillance meets Tuesday, June 13, 2023, at a hearing entitled “Rise in Organized Retail Crime and the Threat to Public Safety” to examine the impact of ORC nationwide.

NRF submitted a written statement for the record in advance of the hearing detailing the growing negative impact of ORC on American businesses, workers and consumers.

“Retailers’ foremost concern with ORC activity is the safety of retail workers and their customers. Individuals and groups committing these crimes have used threats and acts of violence, including the use of weapons, to aid theft,” NRF said in the statement. “As more acts of blatant and deadly thefts take place in stores, the consequences are apparent for both retailers and consumers alike.”

The statement goes on to describe store associates and customers are being harmed and threatened, with everyday items like toothpaste and dish soap having to be locked away, leading to customer inconvenience and lost sales.”

NRF has spearheaded industry efforts for policy reform on ORC legislation, including the INFORM Act, which was passed in December 2022 and will require online marketplaces to verify the identities of high-volume third-party sellers.

NRF: Most consumers think retail crime is up

More than half (53%) of consumers believe retail crimes such as shoplifting and looting stores have increased in their community since the onset of the pandemic, according to a survey recently released by the NRF. The number goes up to 57% for consumers who live in suburban areas.

Other key findings in the NRF survey include:

  • Nearly two-thirds (64%) of consumers are concerned about gang-led shoplifting in their community. This goes up to 75% among consumers who live in urban communities.
  • Three-quarters (75%) of consumers have personally shopped in stores where products were kept in locked cabinets to avoid theft.
  • Seventy-nine percent of consumers believe retail theft impacts the price of goods that they buy. 
  • Half (51%) say law enforcement and the courts are too lenient on those who steal from stores.
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