February 16, 2024 Less than a minute read

Bill to crack down on retail theft is heard in legislative committee

The Crime Prevention and Public Safety Committee recently heard legislation to increase the penalties for those who commit organized retail theft from businesses.

Committee chair Rep. Lane Roberts (R-Joplin) sponsored HB 1652, which establishes the offense of organized retail theft. Organized retail theft occurs when an individual or group commits a series of thefts of retail merchandise online or in person.

“Within the last 12 months in Missouri alone, we’ve lost roughly $3.5 million on the top ten brands that we track,” said Jeff Walkup, asset protection manager for Walgreens.

Under this new law, the offense of organized retail theft would be a Class C felony if the value of all thefts committed in a 120-day period is between $1,500 and $10,000. The charge increases to a Class B felony if the value is over $10,000.

“We work really hard to build as big a case as we can, but what we find is we have so many locations in different jurisdictions that by the time they get to court they are reduced to small misdemeanors,” said Abby Swanson-Paubel, security supervisor for Schnuck Markets, Inc. “Being able to have to have a tool like this bill, to be able to use these felony amounts, would greatly help us combat retail theft.”

Heidi Geisbuhler Sutherland, legislative director for the Missouri Chamber of Commerce and Industry, testified in favor of the bill.

For more information, contact Geisbuhler Sutherland at hsutherland@mochamber.com or 573-634-3511.

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