Retail execs urge Congress to help amid smash-and-grab crime surge

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The chief executives of some of the country’s biggest retailers called on lawmakers this week to help address the massive wave of smash-and-grab crimes that have ravaged stores across the country in recent months.

“As millions of Americans have undoubtedly seen on the news in recent weeks and months, retail establishments of all kinds have seen a significant uptick in organized crime in communities across the nation,” the Retail Industry Leaders Association said in a letter to congressional leadership.

The CEOs of Best Buy, Target, CVS and Dollar General were among the 20 executives to sign on to the letter, which was sent Thursday to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) and to Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.).

The letter urged lawmakers to pass the Integrity, Notification and Fairness in Online Retail Marketplaces (INFORM) for Consumers Act, which the executives said will make it harder for stolen goods to be sold through online marketplaces, such as that run by Facebook.

“While we constantly invest in people, policies, and innovative technology to deter theft, criminals are capitalizing on the anonymity of the Internet and the failure of certain marketplaces to verify their sellers,” the letter said.

On Nov. 24, Santa Rosa Police Officers responded to the Apple Store in the Santa Rosa Plaza, on a report of a “smash and grab” theft involving four male suspects.
On Nov. 24, Santa Rosa police officers responded to the Apple Store in the Santa Rosa Plaza, on a report of a “smash and grab” theft involving four male suspects.
Santa Rosa Police Department

“This trend has made retail businesses a target for increasing theft, hurt legitimate businesses who are forced to compete against unscrupulous sellers, and has greatly increased consumer exposure to unsafe and dangerous counterfeit products.”

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The bill would mandate that online platforms that operate marketplaces verify the identities of sellers, if it becomes law.

“In the current environment, criminal networks and unscrupulous businesses have exploited a system that protects their anonymity to sell unsafe, stolen, or counterfeit products with little legal recourse. This lack of transparency on particular third-party marketplaces has allowed criminal activity to fester,” the executives wrote in the letter.

Smash-and-grab robberies targeting retailers have surged in recent months, especially in California, executives have said on recent quarterly earnings calls.

Near Chicago, 14 suspects stole from a suburban Louis Vuitton store Wednesday afternoon in a “grab and run,” according to police.
Near Chicago, 14 suspects stole from a suburban Louis Vuitton store Wednesday afternoon in a “grab and run,” according to police.
WGN-TV

Best Buy CEO Corie Barry even said last month that the jump in theft is weighing on the company’s profits and traumatizing staff to the point that they leave the industry — at a time when stores are struggling to staff up.

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