ARLINGTON, VA — November 5, 2009 — The Food Marketing Institute (FMI) praised Rep. Bobby Scott (D-VA), chairman of the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, and Homeland Security for holding a hearing on strengthening anti-crime laws to combat the growing problem of organized retail crime (ORC).

    “Organized retail crime is more sophisticated and more dangerous than petty shoplifting as organized rings of criminals move from store to store stealing large quantities of goods,” said Leslie G. Sarasin, president and chief executive officer of the Food Marketing Institute. “They jeopardize the health and safety of consumers by fencing goods to buyers unaware of their origins and increasingly use internet auction sites, which conceal their identity. We support legislation that gives law enforcement the tools they need to fight these criminals and makes organized retail crime a federal felony for all the perpetrators involved.”

    Three legislative proposals have been introduced in Congress to address ORC. Scott introduced the E-Fencing Enforcement Act of 2009 (H.R. 1166), which addresses e-fencing or reselling stolen goods over the Internet. A measure sponsored by U.S. Reps. Brad Ellsworth (D-IN) and Jim Jordan (R-OH), the Combating Organized Retail Crime Act of 2009” (H.R. 1173), calls for a comprehensive solution to ORC and the resale of stolen or fraudulently obtained merchandise through internet auction sites, flea markets, pawn shops, swap meets and shady retail storefronts. Richard Durbin (IL), the second-ranking Democrat in the Senate, introduced a bill similar to the Ellsworth-Jordan bill (S. 470), the Combating Organized Retail Crime Act of 2009.

    “The growing congressional support for legislation to combat organized retail crime and e-fencing is critical to ensure these criminals face stringent federal penalties. We need to protect consumers by making it harder for criminals to hide behind state laws and the Internet,” said Sarasin.

    Consumer health and safety are at risk when ORC gangs store stolen infant formula and medicines in unsafe conditions and repackage them to falsely extend expiration dates.

    Organized crime gangs steal and resell as much as $30 billion in retail merchandise each year, according to federal authorities.

    These crimes drain state budgets as well. ORC losses cost the 46 states that have a sales tax approximately $1.6 billion each year in lost tax revenue, according to the Coalition Against Organized Retail Crime.

     For more information, visit the coalition website at