NRF applauds bill to authorize retail theft task force

The National Retail Federation today welcomed the signing of legislation that would establish an Organized Retail Theft Task Force at the FBI and create an organized retail crime database similar to NRF’s Retail Loss Prevention Intelligence Network.

“The establishment of an FBI task force on organized retail theft is a major victory for retailers,” said Joseph LaRocca, NRF vice president for loss prevention. “This task force and the related database will play a major role in putting these criminals where they belong – behind bars. This shows that Congress and the Administration have recognized that organized retail crime isn’t just everyday shoplifting and that they are committed to fighting this growing problem.”

H.R. 3402, the Violence Against Women and Department of Justice Reauthorization Act of 2005, sponsored by House Judiciary Committee Chairman James Sensenbrenner, R-Wisc., was signed into law by President Bush on Jan. 5.

Among other provisions, the bill requires the U.S. Attorney General to establish an ORT task force within the FBI. The panel would be directed to work closely with the retail community on creating a national database or clearinghouse operated in the private sector to identify where organized retail crimes are being committed. The information is designed to help the FBI quickly identify hot spots of organized retail crime activity across the country in order to deploy agents and resources more efficiently.

The bill also provides a concise working definition of organized retail crime and authorizes $5 million annually for law enforcement to participate in the database as well as for the training of federal law enforcement agents to investigate and prosecute the crimes, NRF says.

NRF says the bill is a significant win for retailers, who have been increasingly victimized by professional shoplifting gangs in recent years. Federal law enforcement authorities estimate that theft rings steal as much as $30 billion in merchandise from retail stores each year.