Bill to crack down on ‘smash-and-grabs’ passes both houses

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (WGEM) – With both sides of the House using crime as a talking point for election season, legislation that targets mass retail theft has been passed by both Houses of the Illinois General Assembly.

“By passing this measure, Illinois lawmakers are sending a message to criminals that these brazen thefts will not be tolerated and will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law,” said Illinois Retail Merchant President. Association, Rob Karr.

Attorney General Kwame Raoul was a leading supporter of the bill, even making appearances on the floors of both chambers to drum up support for the legislation. He formed a task force earlier this year to study retail crime, which led to a focus on high-profile theft resold for profit.

The approved bill addresses retail crime in several ways. First, it seeks to focus on “organized” retail crime, which is more often associated with thefts seen on viral videos, where dozens of people flock to a store, taking whatever they can carry in their arm. Examination of these crimes has shown that the goods are resold through online marketplaces.

The bill creates a legal definition of the charge of organized retail crime, which is when two or more people work together to steal goods and resell the items for a profit to “fund other illegal activities “.

To combat resale of items, the bill would also require online retailers to verify “high-volume” sellers, meaning sellers who list hundreds of items in a month. They would be required to obtain contact information and other forms of verification from the seller.

Senate Patron Suzy Glowiak-Hilton (D-Oak Brook) believes that reducing resale capacity will reduce other crimes she says are funded by theft.

“The issue would help law enforcement find those monetizing stolen goods that often fund illicit activities, including gun, drug and human trafficking,” Glowiak-Hilton said. “The bill aims to reduce human trafficking by eliminating funding generated from the sale of stolen goods.”

However, some lawmakers said the measure did not go far enough, if at all, to address the issue. Senators John Curran (R-Downers Grove) and Steve McClure (R-Springfield) have both spoken out against the bill, saying it does little or nothing to stop retail theft.

“I see this bill as a small step forward, but unfortunately I think it’s only a small step,” said Curran, who worked on the bill’s original introduction. “This bill began as a giant leap forward in the fight against organized retail theft, and unfortunately since that beginning it has taken a significant step back.”

The measure will go to the governor for signature.

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