Since retail theft crimes have become a major problem across the U.S., the Chicago police department has initiated a sprawling effort to reduce the overall number of retail thefts and ensure the prosecution of those who are caught. An Illinois man has since been charged with eight counts of non-probational felony theft and four counts of probational felony theft.
Theft crimes have become a political battlefield, and today, it is common to find different jurisdictions throughout Illinois enforcing different rules pertaining to local ordinances. It was assumed that the rules were overly harsh and antiquated. A defendant could face felony charges for the theft of $150 in merchandise. Today, the threshold is much higher, but the pressure on law enforcement has increased as retail theft crimes become more commonplace and organized. Today, the only way to get a felony by stealing $150 in merchandise is if you steal gasoline from a fuel pump.
Analyzing the New Initiative
The surge is an effort to protect Illinois businesses from retail theft rings that operate in large cities across the country. Once the goods are stolen, they can be moved via online services like Amazon or eBay or transferred in bulk elsewhere. So, today there is a difference between simple shoplifting and organized retail crime (AKA ORC).
A new law signed in May places more pressure on online marketplaces to find vendors that illegally traffic stolen goods. The law would further require marketplaces to identify high-volume sellers. The law also makes it possible for retailers to coordinate with law enforcement by sharing information concerning stolen goods.
Lastly, it was possible for those who were suspected of organized retail crime to escape prosecution by situating themselves in a jurisdiction where the theft did not occur. The new rules will make it easier for prosecutors to prosecute all elements of a retail crime prosecution so long as one element of the crime occurred in their jurisdiction. Those accused of organized retail crime will face grand juries.
Shoplifting Versus Theft
The new rules seek to draw a distinction between those who shoplift and career pirates who make a living off of stealing. Prosecutors would not only have to establish that a theft occurred but that there was a broad effort to steal goods and then resell them for profit. In the case of the defendant mentioned above, police were able to recover storage facilities filled with stolen goods. A simple shoplifting allegation would not necessarily trigger an ORC prosecution unless the defendant was alleged to be part of a retail theft ring. If a criminal conspiracy is established, then an ORC prosecution may be the least of the defendant’s problems. RICO is being used to take down auto theft conspirators, and it is only a matter of time before it is used against organized retail thieves.
Talk to a Chicago Criminal Defense Attorney Today
David Freidberg represents the interests of Chicago defendants charged with property crimes such as theft, retail theft, shoplifting, and more. Call today at (312) 560-7100, and we can begin preparing your defense immediately.