State makes retail theft a felony as organized crime proliferates

The Kansas legislature passed a bill Wednesday that would classify organized retail crime (ORC) a felony offense, joining nine other states that have passed similar laws in the last year. ORC refers to orchestrated groups of shoplifters who commit smash-and-grab robberies of stores or target cargo carriers.The state’s upper chamber passed the Substitute House Bill 2144, which would split the felony charges into two tiers. A theft of merchandise valued at more than $3,000 would be classified a felony and those convicted would face between 31 and 136 months behind bars. If the amount stolen exceeds $15,000, the sentence range is between 38 and 172 months. ‘BURGLARY TOURISM’ PLAGUES SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA AS UNVETTED FOREIGNERS RAID LUXE HOUSESThe bill still has to be signed by Gov. Laura Kelly, a Democrat, before it goes into effect. In support of the bill, Kansas Attorney General Kris Kobach wrote that ORC isn’t “mere shoplifting.””These crimes typically involve stealing for personal use. It is large-scale theft of retail merchandise that represents a concerted effort to victimize a business, often with the intention of reselling the items for financial gain and often using those financial proceeds to fund additional criminal activity,” he said.FLORIDA RESTAURANT OWNER EXPOSES ‘DINE-AND-DASHERS’ ON SOCIAL MEDIA, CONFRONTS WOMAN FLEEING IN MERCEDESA 2023 report from the National Retail Federation, the world’s largest retail association, found that organized retail crime was a primary driver of the massive amount of “shrink” retailers saw in 2022, with non-employee stealing making up 36%. The term “shrink” typically means theft and other forms of inventory losses, and retailers nationwide experienced $112 billion in losses in 2022. Texas, Virginia, Alabama, Indiana, Minnesota, Nevada, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Oregon enacted retail theft laws last year, while California, Florida, Illinois, Louisiana and North Carolina passed ORC laws in 2022. “While theft has an undeniable impact on retailer margins and profitability, retailers are highly concerned about the heightened levels of violence and threat of violence associated with theft and crime,” the NRF wrote on its website. State Senate Republicans who voted for the bill argued that ORC needs its own category since shoplifters who steal for their own use versus those who are part of a broader organized scheme are charged the same way. NYC STORE THAT SURVIVED GREAT DEPRESSION FEARS IT WON’T LAST MUCH LONGER UNDER LIBERAL POLICIES”Currently we don’t have the proper tools to prosecute that type of crime, so that’s what this bill does,” state Sen. Kellie Warren, a Republican, said of the bill, The Topeka Journal reported. Some states hit hard by retail theft have gone so far as to create their own law enforcement task forces to address it. The NRF found that Los Angeles was one of the hardest-hit cities in California for ORC, leading the LA County Sheriff Department to create the Organized Retail Theft Crime Task Force.CLICK HERE TO GET THE FOX NEWS APPMeanwhile, opponents of tough-on-crime laws such as these argue the harsher penalties are too extreme for the crimes and could prevent a person from being rehabilitated. Maine’s legislature passed a bill in the House this week that would prohibit charging people who already have two prior convictions of theft if the third theft is worth less than $500. The state’s current law permits a felony charge for the third conviction if the crimes all occur within a decade. 
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