CHICAGO (WREX) — Attorney General Kwame Raoul Monday announced a partnership between public and private entities designed to combat the increase in organized retail crime.
The Attorney General’s Organized Retail Crime Task Force is the first large-scale, public-private collaboration of its kind in Illinois and is designed to foster cooperation among retailers, online marketplaces, law enforcement agencies and state’s attorneys dedicated to targeting organized retail crime enterprises.
Organized retail crime has increased dramatically over the last two years. According to the Coalition of Law Enforcement and Retail, organized retail theft accounts for $45 billion in annual losses.
The Wall Street Journal reported that the average professional thief targeting CVS steals $2,000 in just two minutes. Home Depot’s investigations into organized retail crime networks have increased by 86% since 2016.
The problem has only increased during the COVID-19 pandemic, with Home Depot estimating a 30% increase in thefts. In 2020 Lowe’s Home Improvement closed 25 organized retail crime cases amounting to $1.3 million in losses, compared to 20 cases amounting to $388,000 in losses in 2019.
Because retail crimes are often coordinated by organized crime outfits, various law enforcement agencies may be investigating the same target in different communities. Without sufficient coordination, both agencies can be lead to believe that they are dealing with isolated actors rather than a pattern of organized crime.
Raoul’s task force will, for the first time, facilitate improved collaboration between federal, state and local law enforcement and retailers, and utilize a wide-ranging approach to stop organized retail crime at the source. Attorney General Raoul’s Organized Retail Crime Task Force will serve as a vehicle allowing multiple jurisdictions to share information and resources.
The task force will consult with the Illinois Retail Merchants Association, the Magnificent Mile Association, the Chicago Automobile Trade Association, the Internet Association, as well as national retailers including CVS, Home Depot, Lowe’s, Target, Walgreens and Walmart.