January 30, 2023

Cortez Masto, Grassley Continue Their Push to Protect Small Businesses from Organized Retail Crime

Washington, D.C. –Today, U.S. Senators Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.) and Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) are continuing their push to help protect small businesses by reintroducing legislation to provide law enforcement with resources to crack down on organized retail crime like flash mob robberies and cargo theft.

Organized retail crime costs retailers $720,000 for every $1 billion in sales – up 50 percent since 2015. Cortez Masto and Grassley’s bipartisan, bicameral Combating Organized Retail Crime Act creates new tools to tackle evolving trends and establishes a new investigative unit within the Department of Homeland Security to better coordinate a whole-of-government and industry response to these illegal schemes.

“I’ve heard directly from retailers across Nevada about the challenges they’re facing with organized retail crime—that’s why I’m pushing bipartisan legislation to help our law enforcement keep these businesses safe,” said Senator Cortez Masto. “Protecting our communities shouldn’t be a partisan issue, and I will continue working with Senator Grassley to crack down on organized crime and stand up for the Nevada small businesses that have been targeted.”

“Stores throughout American communities have not been spared from a national crime wave,” said Senator Grassley. “These organized theft rings have been developing new tactics to pilfer goods, causing economic harm to American businesses and putting consumers at risk while funding transnational criminal organizations throughout the world. These criminals are exploiting the internet and online marketplaces to stay one step ahead of the law, and it’s time the law catches up. This bill improves our federal response to organized retail crime and establishes new tools to recover goods and illicit proceeds, and deter future attacks on American retailers.”

The Combating Organized Retail Crime Act is supported by the National Retail Federation, the Retail Industry Leaders Association, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, ICSC, the Peace Officers Research Association of California, the Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association, Sergeants Benevolent Association NYPD and the PASS (Protect America’s Small Sellers) Coalition.

“NRF commends Senators Chuck Grassley and Catherine Cortez Masto for their leadership on legislation to curtail one of the most urgent problems facing retailers and the communities we serve. Organized retail crime is a multibillion-dollar crisis impacting retailers, associates and consumers. NRF’s 2022 National Retail Security Survey found that over the past year retailers have reported a significant increase in violence and aggression associated with these brazen crimes. The Combating Organized Retail Crime Act of 2023 and the Organized Retail Crime Center Authorization Act will align efforts within a new Organized Retail Crime Coordination Center to ensure that resources and information-sharing will be available across state, federal and private-sector partners. This legislation is an important step to help retailers fight back against ORC,” said the National Retail Federation.

“Organized retail crime has a devastating impact on businesses and communities. It is particularly harmful for small businesses that lack the resources to recover and employees and customers who are traumatized by the interactions. As these crimes increase, law enforcement is seeing perpetrators become more violent and more brazen, leaving business workers in the harrowing position of choosing between their livelihoods and their lives. Law enforcement must be equipped with the tools to reverse this criminal trend. We applaud Senator Grassley and Senator Cortez Masto for introducing this legislation so federal law enforcement can better work with state and local partners and industry to combat organized retail crime,” Federal Law Enforcement Officers of America National President Larry Cosme said.

As the former top law enforcement official in Nevada, Senator Cortez Masto has been a leading advocate in the Senate for public safety. In 2022, she led the call for robust funding for the Byrne JAG grant program, the leading source of criminal justice funding for state, local, and tribal governments supporting crime prevention, law enforcement, prosecution, corrections, and mental and behavioral health programs. Her bipartisan bills to combat the crisis of law enforcement suicide and provide mental health resources to police officers were both signed into law.