The language was incorporated into the Violence Against Women and Department of Justice Reauthorization bill (H. R. 3402), which the Senate passed on December 17. The House of Representatives passed the bill on September 28. The bill will now go to President Bush for his approval.
The bill is a significant win for consumers, retailers and manufacturers, who have been victimized by professional shoplifting gangs in recent years. According to federal law enforcement officials, it is estimated that these theft rings are responsible for stealing as much as $30 billion in consumer products and merchandise from retail stores each year.
The coalition, chaired by the Food Marketing Institute (FMI) and comprised of national organizations representing retailers, suppliers and individual companies, has been working on a legislative solution with Congress for more than five years.
The ORT provisions are in Title XI, Section 1105 of the legislation. They call for the attorney general to establish an ORT Task Force within the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). The Task Force will be directed to work closely with the retail community on creating a national database or clearinghouse that will be housed in the private sector to identify where ORT crimes are being committed. This information will help the FBI quickly identify “hot spots” throughout the United States so the FBI can deploy agents and resources more efficiently.
The ORT language also provides for a concise working definition on ORT crimes. It authorizes $5 million for establishing and maintaining the national database and educating and training federal law enforcement agents to investigate and prosecute ORT gang members. The coalition worked closely with Reps. Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) and Jim Sensenbrenner (R-WI), chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, and Sen. Larry Craig (R-ID) on the ORT provisions.
Attached is a list of all organizations and companies that are members of the Coalition Against Organized Retail Theft.