How Could the New IL Organized Retail Theft Bill Impact You?
There are some stories that make a lot of headlines – and the “smash and grab” or “flash mob” retail theft crimes that have been occurring in Chicago and across Illinois are headlines you may have noticed over the last few years.
Organized retail theft is on the rise, but a new bill just signed into law by the Governor aims to help curb this practice and provide better legal guidelines to fight against it.
Here’s what you need to know about organized retail theft in Illinois and what this new bill will do to help in the fight against it.
What Is Organized Retail Theft?
Organized retail theft occurs when those who are considered to be professional shoplifters work with other professionals to steal from a store. The people who perpetrate organized retail crime work in teams. Some may help to distract the store employees while others steal the goods within the store. In many cases, these teams of thieves are working under the orders of a leader who is directing them in where to go and what to steal.
You may also see organized retail theft at work when large groups of people rush into a store and steal, even when other customers and employees are inside. These flash mobs create a situation where there is a lot of chaos, which makes the crime easier to perpetrate.
Perhaps one of the most notable examples of this type of theft occurred in December in Oak Brook, when a large group of people, about 14, rushed into a Louis Vuitton store and made off with $120,000 in stolen goods.
The INFORM Act
The new bill signed into law, HB 1091 which is also called the INFORM Act, seeks to penalize those who are organizing the crime and making profits from it – not to more harshly punish those who may join in the schemes, because they are desperate for money.
The penalties under this new law include:
Class 3 Felony
This will be charged when someone knowingly engages with other people in a theft that is valued at $300 or more.
This can be penalized by as much as five years in prison, as well as one year of mandatory supervised release. It is possible for someone convicted of a Class 3 felony to instead serve probation, but that probation term can last for up to 30 months.
Class 2 Felony
This will be charged when someone commits retail theft at one or more establishments.
A Class 2 felony is punishable by up to seven years behind bars and requires as much as two years of mandatory supervised release. The judge can also impose up to four years of probation for a Class 2 felony.
What is most notable about this new Act is that it allows prosecutors to charge others with theft, conspiracy, and selling of stolen goods who may not have directly perpetrated the theft. In other words, the entire crime from planning to the selling of stolen goods can now be prosecuted under Illinois state law, something that was not possible under the existing laws of the past.
This new law may help to prosecute organized theft crimes and support retailers in the long run. However, it also creates new charges which people may not understand how to navigate if they are charged. That’s why having an experienced attorney on your side can help.
About the Author:
Andrew M. Weisberg is a former felony prosecutor who now serves as a defense attorney in the greater Chicago area. He has extensive experience in handling all types of criminal cases, from sex offenses and domestic violence to retail theft-related crimes, murder, and drug crimes. His work has been recognized by Avvo, Expertise, National Trial Lawyers, and others, and he has been featured on countless news outlets for his experience and knowledge in criminal law.