Senator Amy Klobuchar

Working for the People of Minnesota

Press Contact

Joel Gross
Press Secretary
(202) 224-3244

News Releases

Klobuchar Fights Organized Retail Crime

November 24, 2010

MINNEAPOLIS (Wednesday, November 24, 2010) – Minnesota law enforcement and retail industry representatives joined U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar at the downtown Minneapolis Target store to announce efforts to combat the problem of organized retail crime.

“We’re entering the holiday shopping season, a season for giving,” said Klobuchar.  “But, for professional thieves, it’s just another season for taking.  They act the role of the Grinch throughout the entire year.”

Organized retail crime involves sophisticated crime rings that move from store to store – and state to state – stealing large quantities of goods, which are then sold through flea markets, swap meets, pawn shops, temporary stores and, increasingly, on Internet auction sites. 

Common stolen items include baby formula, over-the-counter medications and health care products, cosmetics, clothing and electronics.

Organized retail crime is a big business.  The cost to the retail industry is estimated to be as much as $30 billion each year.  It also deprives states of hundreds of millions of dollars in lost sales tax revenue each year. 

In addition, the cost of stolen goods adds to the price of other goods that consumers purchase.  According to one recent report, the average American’s shopping bill will be more than $400 higher this year as a result of retail crime.

“When these thieves commit their crimes, they don’t respect local or state jurisdictional boundaries,” said Klobuchar, who served for eight years as chief prosecutor for Minnesota’s most populous county.  “Organized retail crime is a national problem, and it requires a national response.”

A member of both the Senate Judiciary and Commerce committees, Klobuchar has introduced the “Combating Organized Retail Crime Act,” which would strengthen the federal response to organized retail crime. Cosponsors include Sen. Richard Durbin (D-IL) and Sen. James Risch (R-ID).

The bipartisan legislation has several key provisions:

- It would toughen the criminal code’s treatment of organized retail crime.  New dollar-value thresholds would be established for crimes such as interstate transport and sale of stolen goods. 

- A nationwide reporting system would be established to effectively share evidence about organized retail crime among retailers, the marketplaces where stolen items might be sold and the Justice Department.

- If the operator of a physical or Internet marketplace is presented with clear and convincing evidence that a seller on that marketplace is selling stolen goods, the operator would be required to terminate the seller’s activities unless there is proof to the contrary.

- High-volume sellers on Internet marketplace sites would be required to provide a physical address where they are located.

The legislation is supported by the major retail industry associations, including the National Retail Federation, Retail Industry Leaders Association, Food Marketing Institute and National Association of Chain Drug Stores.

Among those joining Klobuchar for the news conference were Lee Vague, Police Chief of Woodbury; Tim Baer, Executive Vice President and General Counsel for Target Corporation; Brad Broekke, Vice President of Assets Protection for Target Corporation; and Brian Steinhoff, President of the Minnesota Retailers Association.


Senator Klobuchar’s Offices

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Main Line: 202-224-3244
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Fax: 507-288-2922

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