Governor Pritzker Signs Legislation Addressing Rise in Organized Retail Thefts
CHICAGO, IL (STL.News) Governor JB Pritzker today joined Attorney General Kwame Raoul, lawmakers, advocates, and law enforcement officials to sign legislation designed to combat a nationwide rise in coordinated retail thefts.
“This new law represents another important step to fight crime and advance public safety in Illinois,” said Governor JB Pritzker. “This is how we protect store workers and customers, prevent militarized storefronts and empty commercial corridors, and across the board, make communities safer for all who call them home. And I look forward to furthering our work to shape a public safety system that works for all of us, including ensuring the victim rights advanced today are carried throughout our justice system.”
House Bill 1091, otherwise known as the INFORM Act, enforces the new crime of Organized Retail Theft. Those who violate the crime by knowingly engaging with others in a theft valued at $300 or more would be guilty of a Class 3 felony. Those who engage in retail theft from one or more establishments would be guilty of a Class 2 felony.
This legislation is specifically aimed at a multi-billion-dollar industry carrying out sophisticated theft operations to turn a profit on the resale market. Last December alone, Attorney General Kwame Raoul’s Organized Retail Crime Task Force retrieved $1 million worth of stolen goods from storage units.
“Serious criminal activities, including gunrunning and drug trafficking, have been funded using proceeds from the sales of merchandise stolen through organized retail crimes. This is not just a criminal problem – this hurts consumers as well. That is why we need online marketplaces to do their part. Online marketplaces must use their intellectual resources to make sure criminals are not selling stolen products on their sites, which will help us protect consumers,” Attorney General Kwame Raoul said. “This law strengthens the authority of my office and other law enforcement agencies to disrupt criminal enterprises that are directly responsible for the rise in organized retail crime. I appreciate Gov. Pritzker’s signing of this important law, as well as the leadership of Sen. Glowiak Hilton and Rep. Kam Buckner in guiding this bipartisan proposal through the Illinois General Assembly.”
“We’ve witnessed how organized retail crime hurts our local economies and threatens the safety of our communities,” said House Speaker Emanuel “Chris” Welch. “This legislation gives our law enforcement the necessary tools to combat this rise in retail crime and hold criminals accountable.”
“This new law goes after large scale, smash-and-grab outfits preying on our businesses,” said Senate President Don Harmon (D-Oak Park). “Today we send the message that there will be swift consequences for those conspiring to take advantage of our retailers.”
“One of my top priorities this session has been to address the organized retail theft that has been plaguing both downtown Chicago and the small businesses across our neighborhoods,” said State Representative Kam Buckner (D-Chicago). “Between inflation and the lingering effects of the pandemic, local businesses are already facing major obstacles. By creating a specific offense for this crime, we can protect the local businesses and residents who are being targeted by criminal enterprises, which will then protect the safety and economic wellbeing of communities across Chicago and the state.”
“Organized retail crimes across the state have disturbed residents, wreaked havoc on businesses and stunted growth within local economies,” said State Senator Suzy Glowiak Hilton (D-Western Springs). “By advancing the Organized Retail Crime Act, Illinois is enacting one of the most comprehensive crime-curbing efforts in the nation.”
“Organized retail crime is not a victimless crime. It threatens the safety of employees and customers, robs businesses of tax dollars and puts communities at risk of further crime including illegal firearm purchases, human trafficking and even terrorism. We thank Governor Pritzker for signing this important measure into law, creating additional avenues to combat these complex crimes and provide for safer communities,” said Rob Karr, president & CEO, IRMA. “I want to thank Attorney General Raoul for his partnership in combatting the rising issue of organized retail crime, as well as every lawmaker who supported and voted in favor of this measure that will help protect retailers, employees and customers across the state.”
In addition to the INFORM Act, Illinois is advancing efforts to reimagine public safety. Through the Reimagine Public Safety program, $250 million will be deployed to disrupt cycles of violence in neighborhoods where it’s needed most through community-based solutions.
Additionally, Governor Pritzker enacted the most comprehensive reform to state firearms laws in over a generation, coordinated 911 and 988 services to provide care to those experiencing behavioral health emergencies, and launched a victim-centered co-responder pilot program to pair victims and witnesses with trauma-informed social workers.
This legislation is effective January 1, 2023.