CAMP HILL, PA - Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell signed into law yesterday the "Organized Retail Crime" (ORC) legislation. The new law will strengthen Pennsylvaniaï¿½ï¿½s retail theft laws and is supported by the Pennsylvania Food Merchants Association (PFMA) and Pennsylvania Convenience Store Council (PCSC).
Specifically, the new law defines organized retail theft (ORT) and sets that type of theft at the felony level, which will help align Pennsylvania with neighboring states to make our stateï¿½ï¿½s retailers less of a target for ORC.
Organized groups of professional thieves steal more than $30 billion in merchandise from national retailers annually with little fear of serious punishment. According to the Food Marketing Institute, Pennsylvania loses an estimated $81 million in tax revenue annually as a result.
ORC is different from common shoplifting. This bill is specifically aimed at professional thieves who make a living out of organized retail crime. ORC gangs have been linked to international terrorism and payments to "boosters" often enable drug-addicted thieves to continue their addiction.
The bill establishes ORT as a felony of the third degree if the retail value of the stolen merchandise is at least $5,000, but not more than $19,999. If the retail value of the stolen merchandise is at least $20,000, the offense is considered a felony of the second degree.
Nancy Jones, previous chair of PFMAï¿½ï¿½s Loss Prevention Committee and vice president of asset protection at Giant Food Stores, commented, "This new law will give district attorneys and law enforcement officers better tools to prosecute the perpetrators of organized retail crime. We really needed this change in Pennsylvania."
In July 2010, the PFMA/PCSC Loss Prevention Committee will work to educate law enforcement on the new regulations. On July 14, committee representatives will provide concurrent presentations at the Pennsylvania District Attorneys Association Summer Meeting in Erie as well as the Pennsylvania Chiefs of Police 97th Annual Education and Training Conference in Lancaster. PFMA also has plans to work with trainers at the Municipal Police Officers' Education & Training Commission (MPOETC) to inform them about the new law.