September 30, 2022

Cortez Masto, Grassley Introduce Legislation to Bolster Federal Response to Organized Retail Theft

Washington, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senators Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.) and Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) introduced legislation to protect shops and retailers by targeting flash mob robberies and intricate retail theft schemes. The Combatting Organized Retail Crime Act establishes a coordinated multi-agency response and creates new tools to tackle evolving trends in organized retail theft.

“Law enforcement must have access to the tools they need to crack down on organized crime groups that target shops and retailers in Nevada and across the country” said Senator Cortez Masto. “My bipartisan legislation will do just that by going after large-scale criminal schemes and working with the retail industry to deter, detect, and prosecute these crimes.” 

Organized retail crime costs retailers $720,000 for every $1 billion in sales. The bipartisan Combatting Organized Retail Crime Act creates a unified government and industry collaboration to address this trend. The bill establishes a Center to Combat Organized Retail Crime at Homeland Security Investigations that combines expertise from state and local law enforcement agencies as well as retail industry representatives. It also creates new tools to assist in federal investigation and prosecution of organized retail crime, and help recover lost goods and proceeds.

The Combatting Organized Retail Crime Act is supported by the National Retail Federation, the Retail Industry Leaders Association, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Innovating Commerce Serving Communities, the Peace Officers Research Association of California, and the Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association.

“We applaud Senators Grassley and Cortez Masto for introducing the Combating Organized Retail Crime Act of 2022. Organized Retail Crime (ORC) is a multibillion-dollar problem impacting the retail industry and jeopardizing the safety of associates and customers. According to NRF’s 2022 National Retail Security Survey, retailers reported a 26.5% increase in ORC, on average. Perhaps more concerning, retailers also noted an increase in violence and aggression associated with ORC over the past year,” said the National Retail Federation. “The Combating Organized Retail Crime Act of 2022 will establish a new Organized Retail Crime Coordination Center to align counter-ORC activities nationally and internationally by developing a national-level ORC intelligence perspective, facilitating information sharing and cross-agency investigations, and serving as a center of expertise for training and technical assistance. This coordination is a critical step for retailers to effectively combat these criminal activities.” 

“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,” said Federal Law Enforcement Officers of America National President Larry Cosme.

Legislative text is available HERE

As the former top law enforcement official in Nevada, Senator Cortez Masto has been a leading advocate in the Senate for our police officers. She led the call for robust funding for the Byrne JAG grant program in the FY2022 omnibus bill. The program is the leading source of criminal justice funding for state, local, and tribal governments and provides support for a range of programs related to crime prevention, law enforcement, prosecution, corrections, and mental and behavioral health. Her bipartisan bills to combat the crisis of law enforcement suicide and provide mental health resources to police officers were both signed into law. Her bipartisan Invest to Protect Act, to provide $250 million over the next five years to support small law enforcement agencies across the country so they can invest in training, mental health support, and recruitment and retention, passed the Senate in July.