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Runestad’s organized retail crime bill gains momentum as it moves through Legislature

LANSING, Mich. — Sen. Jim Runestad’s legislation to penalize organized retail crime under the state’s racketeering statute continued to gain support on Tuesday as it was approved by the House Judiciary Committee.

“Organized retail crime hurts both consumers and businesses,” said Runestad, R-White Lake. “Shoplifting has blown up into a multi-billion industry across America. We’ve all seen video after video showing perpetrators bursting into businesses with hammers, bags, and other accessories to commit robberies in a highly organized manner — putting innocent customers and store employees in unnecessary danger. Consumers then pay the price of allowing organized retail crime to continue by paying higher prices to make up those billions in losses.

“The criminal rings organizing this activity also take advantage of the very poor, drug-addicted, and human trafficked individuals to steal high-value items from retail stores. This bill seeks to hold accountable those at the top of the criminal ring who benefit from coercing youth and vulnerable individuals to commit organized retail crimes on their behalf.”

Senate Bill 691, which was approved unanimously by the Senate last month, would add similar language to the state’s racketeering penal code in order to provide more legal leverage against criminals at the top of these efforts. Michigan’s Organized Retail Crime Act, which was passed in 2012, prescribed felony sentencing for organizing, supervising, financing or assisting another person in committing organized retail crimes.

“Retailers regularly work in partnership with law enforcement to stop organized retail crime rings but know our prosecutors need more tools to stop this activity from continuing to grow. Strengthening the penalties for those organizing coordinated efforts will prevent criminal rings from targeting Michigan retailers,” said Amy Drumm, Michigan Retailers Association senior vice president, government affairs.

The legislation also is supported by Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel, Michigan Solicitor General Fadwa A. Hammoud, Michigan State Police, Michigan Association of Chiefs of Police, Target, and The Home Depot.

SB 691 now moves to the full House of Representatives for consideration.

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