Illinois Senate bill to crack down on robbery has bipartisan support
By JOHN O’CONNOR | AP political writer
SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) — The Illinois Senate has a bipartisan plan to crack down on retail theft and the subsequent sale of stolen items.
The legislation targets retail theft rings allegedly responsible for stealing merchandise from stores. It identifies the offense of “retail organized crime” and seeks to eliminate jurisdictional restrictions that often impede wholesale prosecutions. It would also provide more money for police and prosecutors to chase down fraudsters.
“Crime networks have really used chaotic smash-and-grab tactics in stores across the country,” said Sen. Suzy Glowiak Hilton, Democrat of Western Springs. “People come to smash and grab, they scare employees, they scare people who go to stores and they also do damage. People fear for their lives. »
Proponents say statistics are hard to come by, but the high-profile successes have brought the issue to the fore. People show up in groups for mass shoplifting events or to enter stores and smash and grab windows. California is asking for $300 million over three years to tackle the problem. Minneapolis also reported several incidents.
“It’s scary to be alone and all of a sudden you hear the news of what’s going on,” said Monica Zanetti, owner of craft store Wild Rose Boutique in Springfield. “But I just feel like we’re ahead. They (thieves) didn’t go downtown, but they might come, so I’m glad it’s something we’re talking about.
The legislation has the support of the state attorney general and the Illinois Retail Merchants Association. This would give any state prosecutor the power to prosecute all aspects of organized retail crime. As things stand, jurisdictional issues can arise that prevent lawsuits when a theft occurs in one county and the stolen goods are sold elsewhere, said Rob Karr, retailers president and CEO.
Additionally, if a cell phone or the Internet is used to coordinate such a crime, any state’s attorney can step in. In some cases, such as multiple thefts across state lines, the Illinois Attorney General could prosecute suspects with anti-racketeering laws. .
“It will lead to a more comprehensive prosecution that captures more individuals involved in the ring,” said Sen. John Curran, a Republican from Downers Grove and co-sponsor of the legislation. “You’re talking about anyone involved in the organization, planning through the actual commission of the crime and ending with the proliferation of stolen property.”
The plan asks for more money each year from the attorney general’s office to hire investigators and attorneys, as well as award money to state attorneys in crime-sensitive counties.
Stolen items are often sold online, so the bill would require third-party marketplaces to verify sellers and the goods they offer. The provision mirrors pending legislation in Congress sponsored by Illinois Sen. Dick Durbin and Rep. Jan Schakowsky, both Democrats.
Among the co-sponsors of the Senate bill are:
- Senator Suzy Glowiak Hilton (D – 24th)
- Michael E. Hastings (D – 19th)
- John F. Curran (D-41st)
- Doris Turner (D – 48th)
- Craig Wilcox (D – 32nd)
- Laura Ellman (D – 21st)
- Meg Loughran Cappel (D – 49th)
- Sally J. Turner (R-44th)
- Donald P. DeWitte (D – 33rd)
- Darren Bailey (D – 55th)
- Neil Anderson (D – 36th)
- Terri Bryant (R-58th)
- Jil Tracy (D – 47th)
- Patrick J. Joyce (D – 40th)
- Julie A. Morrison (D – 29th)
- John Connor (D-43rd)
- Steve McClure (D – 50th)
- Jason A. Barickman (D – 53rd)
- Dave Syverson (R – 35th)
- Win Stoller (D – 37th)
- Sue Rezin (R – 38th)
- Laura M. Murphy (D-28th)
- Dale Fowler (R-59th)
- Chapin Rose (R – 51st)
- Rachelle Crowe (D – 56th)
Other provisions would coordinate information sharing between the public and private sectors, including asset protection managers, and require retailers who are victims of organized retail crime to be informed of all legal proceedings.
The spring session of the Legislative Assembly is due to end on April 8.
The invoice is HB1091.
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