Sen. Suzy Glowiak Hilton address reporters in Blueroom

SPRINGFIELD – To offer stability to retailers, bring support to state prosecutors and promote statewide economic growth, State Senator Suzy Glowiak Hilton (D-Western Springs) joined officials with the Illinois Retail Merchants Association and Attorney General’s office to discuss a legislative proposal to curb Organized Retail Crime in Illinois at a press conference Tuesday.

“In recent months, high-profile smash-and-grab crimes have created local concerns for store owners, patrons and communities statewide,” said Glowiak Hilton, chair of the Senate Commerce Committee. “To make a collaborative effort at controlling the frequency, magnitude and severity of Organized Retail Crimes, this proposal addresses systemic concerns raised by prosecutors and retail advocacy groups to bring offenders to justice.”

In partnership with IRMA and the office of the attorney general, Glowiak Hilton’s measure defines Organized Retail Crime as a specific criminal charge and provides prosecutors with additional resources to hold perpetrators accountable. House Bill 1091 codifies ORC as the theft of retail merchandise with intent to sell.

“The provisions of Senate Amendment #1 to House Bill 1091 should serve as a strong deterrent to retail theft and the resale of stolen merchandise, and even more important, it empowers our law enforcement officials to get these criminals off the street and held accountable for their actions,” said State Senator John Curran (R-Downers Grove). “The multi-jurisdictional approach to this legislation strips away any perceived shield these criminals think they may enjoy by acting in one particular location, as these organized operations ultimately result in stolen goods being transported and resold throughout the state.”

Under the proposal, prosecutors would have additional opportunities to bring charges against offenders regardless of where the crime takes place. For example, if the conspiracy, theft and selling occurred in different jurisdictions, each jurisdiction would have the ability to prosecute the entire crime. The Illinois Attorney General would also have the ability to prosecute via a statewide grand jury.

“The impact of organized retail crime reaches far and wide, leaving fewer tax dollars to fund important government services, threatening the safety of employees and customers and putting our communities at risk of further crime including illegal firearm purchases, human trafficking and even terrorism. Inaction and half measures will not suffice, lest we continue to surrender to criminals exploiting the current loopholes in our laws,” said Rob Karr, president & CEO of the Illinois Retail Merchants Association. “Working in partnership with the Illinois Attorney General’s office, we have helped craft a comprehensive proposal that will bring about real change by investing in law enforcement, holding criminals responsible and making it tougher to resell stolen goods. On behalf of our state’s retailers, we thank Sen. Glowiak Hilton for her efforts to shepherd this legislation through the Senate along with her colleague Sen. John Curran, and look forward to working in a collaborative manner to curb these horrific crimes.”

To prevent stolen goods from being sold online, the measure also requires third-party sellers to verify users’ identity with bank account numbers or other information. Sellers who do not comply may be suspended.

“As organized retail theft becomes more prevalent across the country, Illinois is responsible for updating its laws to fight back against the uptick and prioritize public safety for its residents, workers and business community,” said State Senator Doris Turner (D-Springfield). “By creating the Organized Retail Crime Act, our state has an opportunity to enact one of the most comprehensive crime-curbing efforts in the nation.”

House Bill 1091 awaits consideration by the Senate.