(Chicago, IL) – February 24, 2011. Governor Pat Quinn yesterday signed legislation to combat organized retail crime in Illinois, enabling prosecutors to seek forfeiture of assets of those convicted of retail theft.
Across the country, the retail industry loses an estimated $30 billion a year to this practice. Additionally, it is estimated that the state of Illinois lost $77 million in tax dollars uncollected in 2010 as a result, according to the Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez.
Under the new law, House Bill 6460, law enforcement’s ability to charge and prosecute offenders of organized retail crime will be expanded. And the forfeiture of assets represents a major legislative step forward in providing financial disincentive to organizers and participants of organized retail crime, according to Quinn.
“This important new law will help protect retailers and communities throughout Illinois from the economically damaging practices of organized retail crime.”
Organized retail crime occurs when an individual or gang illegally obtains retail merchandise through theft and fraud in substantial quantities. Stores in low-income communities can end up stocking stolen merchandise, such as over-the-counter medication and baby formula, whose product temperature and caretaking needs have not been satisfied.
“This legislation represents a great step forward in preventing the abuse of Illinois businesses by individuals who target them for theft,” said State Rep. Constance Howard (D-Chicago).
“At the same time, this legislation provides a brighter future for those who seek to rehabilitate after committing crimes. This is a bill about a successful Illinois economy – successful businesses and successful job-seekers.”
“Retail theft causes price increases for everyone. Therefore, the perpetrator must learn their lesson and pay their debt to society,” said State Rep. Monique Davis (D-Chicago).
In addition to Alvarez, Quinn was joined by Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart and representatives from the Illinois Retail Merchants Association at a press conference to sign the legislation.