Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul has announced the formation of an organized retail crime task force, a measure aimed at stymieing the dramatic increase in organized retail crime during the past two years, according to a release from the AG’s office.
The task force is designed to foster cooperation among retailers, online marketplaces, law enforcement agencies and state’s attorneys. It will consult with the Illinois Retail Merchants Association, the Magnificent Mile Association, the Chicago Automobile Trade Association, the Internet Association, as well as national retailers including CVS, Home Depot, Lowe’s, Target, Walgreens and Walmart.
The AG’s release included the following facts and figures:
- According to the Coalition of Law Enforcement and Retail, organized retail theft accounts for $45 billion in annual losses.
- Home Depot’s investigations into organized retail crime networks have increased by 86 percent since 2016.
- CVS has estimated a 30 percent increase in thefts during the pandemic.
- In 2020, Lowe’s closed 25 organized retail crime cases amounting to $1.3 million in losses, compared to 20 cases amounting to $388,000 in losses in 2019.
“Organized retail crime is a multibillion-dollar-per-year industry, but more important than the financial cost is the danger organized retail crime poses to our communities,” says Raoul. “These brazen, violent crimes are committed by sophisticated criminal organizations that are involved in drug trafficking, human trafficking and other serious crimes. Even during the looting we law last year, we came to understand that some of these criminal acts were not merely opportunistic, but organized in advance.
“The organized retail crime task force will allow investigators and prosecutors in my office to better collaborate with our law enforcement partners and ensure cooperation between law enforcement, as well as retailers and online marketplaces, to protect communities and consumers, and combat the rise in retail crime.”