TRENTON – A measure sponsored by Senators Paul A. Sarlo and John A. Girgenti that would create the crime of “leader of an organized retail theft enterprise,” and impose prison time on persons found guilty of leading or participating in organized theft rings received unanimous approval today from the Assembly.
“Today’s unanimous approval of this bill is taking us one step closer to ridding New Jersey of these organized theft rings,” said Senator Sarlo, D-Bergen, Essex and Passaic. “When these groups collaborate and steal thousands of dollars worth of merchandise from stores, consumers are left to pick up the slack by paying higher prices for the items they need. This bill will target everyone involved in these theft rings and send a clear message that we will not allow these rings to rob our local businesses or our honest taxpayers of their hard-earned dollars.”
“Organized retail theft is a major concern facing many retailers,” said Senator Girgenti, D-Bergen and Passaic. “Retailers’ bottom lines are being hit harder every year due to organized retail theft, which then ends up being passed onto the customers. Organized retail crime does not only affect our finances; it also affects the safety and security of employees and customers in the store. By toughen our theft laws we can deter this kind of crime, and protect our citizens, and their wallets.”
The Senators’ measure, S-273, would define a “leader of an organized retail theft organization” as a person who acts as an organizer engaging in any scheme to use other people to transfer or sell stolen merchandise. Under the bill, leading a shoplifting organization would constitute a second degree crime, and would be punishable by up to ten years in prison and fines of up to $150,000.
Under current law, stealing merchandise valued at less than $1,000 constitutes a third degree crime, which is punishable by up to five years in prison an a $15,000 fine. The bill also defines an “organized retail theft enterprise” as two or more people collaborating to transfer or sell stolen merchandise.
This measure now heads to the Governor’s desk where his signature would make it State law.