Organized Retail Theft Bill Introduced in Colorado

Mar 24, 2006
George Anderson

By George Anderson

A bill introduced in the Colorado House would a create a task force to combat organized retail theft as well as instituting measures including requiring flea market dealers to show proof of ownership for commonly stolen goods such as infant formula, baby food, batteries and over-the-counter medicines.

Large retailers operating stores in the state, including Target, Safeway and King Soopers, support the bill, HB 1380, sponsored by Rep. James Riesberg, D-Greeley.

Many smaller stores are also in favor of the proposed legislation as they look to deal with organized retail theft.

Mary Lou Chapman of the Rocky Mountain Food Industry Association told The Denver Business Journal, “The problem is not just specific to big cities and big stores.”

Losses due to organized theft rings is estimated at $30 billion a year across the country. Rep. Riesberg’s bill has passed Colorado’s House Judiciary Committee and will next be considered by Appropriations. 

Moderator’s Comment: Is a federal legislative and law enforcement response necessary to deal with the growing problem of organized retail theft? How
are retailers addressing the issue?

Frank Muscato, Wal-Mart’s investigative coordinator, testified before Congress on the organized shoplifting threat last year.

“Because state laws are often soft and there is a lack of federal laws addressing the issue, retail theft has become a high-profit, low-risk avenue of crime,”
he said at the time.

Aside from the call for federal action, retailers have set up a national database to try and identify areas where organized retail theft activity is taking

George Anderson – Moderator

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6 Comments on "Organized Retail Theft Bill Introduced in Colorado"

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Craig Sundstrom
14 years 11 months ago

An organized theft ring trafficking in…Pampers ??? Come on, I bet even the most straitlaced amongst us have to suppress a smile thinking about that.

Anyway, I’m with the “enough already (to new laws)” crowd: certainly these diaper-nappers are sophisticated enough to forge receipts and BOS’s; and I’m particularly dubious when that old chestnut of “growing problem” is trotted out without even a single factoid to back it up.

Mike Bavington
Mike Bavington
14 years 11 months ago

It all started long ago when theft was rephrased as shoplifting. What does that mean anyway – Shoplifting?

Stealing is stealing. Why are people fined for speeding or not wearing a seatbelt, but not fined for stealing from a store? Impose $500 fines on people who steal. If they don’t have the money to pay, which some will falsely claim, possess any property that they do have – i.e. impound their car.

The problem is that no one wants to stop it except retailers and retailers spend most of their time focusing on their business and hope the problem doesn’t get out of hand.

Herb Sorensen
14 years 11 months ago

An organized attack requires an organized response, period. And if the government doesn’t do it, we face vigilantism. If the attack is only local, local government would be adequate. But the world isn’t local anymore, so a broader response is required.

As technology and information management increase, anonymity will decrease. At some point in time, cash will NOT be anonymous. This is not a judgment of merit, but of fact. The question is not, can we stop this, but what is the best path from here to there?

Warren Thayer
14 years 11 months ago

This is a good idea. Why shouldn’t people selling goods such as these at flea markets be required to show a receipt or some form of paperwork to show ownership. Many retailers are being badly hurt by this, and need better protection. Unfortunately, as crime takes new twists (identify theft, phishing, use of cold medications to make illegal drugs etc.) the law has to evolve with them to protect the honest people. This is just a simple matter of trying to stay ahead of the crooks, or at least keep up with them. Are we supposed to just throw up our hands and give up?

Jeff Weitzman
Jeff Weitzman
14 years 11 months ago
But Mark, if we outlaw cash, only outlaws will have cash! 😉 I’m with Mark, this seems like a classic case of trying to pass laws instead of enforcing the ones we’ve already got. Theft is a crime already, and so is conspiracy. Flea markets are private enterprises and entitled to require that participating vendors carry proof of purchase for the goods they sell. If they refuse to weed out obvious crime, then let a local prosecutor charge them with conspiracy. That ought to make such people think twice about looking the other way. Federal legislation? Do we really need more? If organized rings are transporting stolen goods across state lines, I’m sure there are sufficient laws to allow federal authorities to step in. If they are not crossing state lines, how is this a federal matter? How would federal authorities even help the situation? I understand the frustration, but the answer is to pressure the authorities to enforce the law, or provide the money to help them do so, not create more unfunded state… Read more »
Mark Lilien
14 years 11 months ago

It’s easy for a politician to be against crime. What politician would defend crime? Being a small businessperson is a very hard life. Let’s hope these new laws don’t just make things more difficult for the honest people. Are they going to put serial numbers on Pampers boxes and track receipts by serial number? Will there be a national Pampers registry? Why isn’t there a bar code on every dollar bill? Retailers and banks could be forced to scan all the paper money they receive so that untaxed cash sources could be tracked. Coins should be eliminated. People could be issued magnetic stored value cards. There is no reason any honest person should tolerate the use of cash. After all, everyone knows crooks use cash.


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