Consumers Pay The Price For Organized Retail Crime

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UPDATED: Friday June 14, 2013 6:20 PM

Organized crime is happening in shops and businesses most of us visit on a regular basis.

And we, the consumers, are the ones paying the price.

On Friday, hundreds of retailers and law enforcement officers gathered in Columbus in an effort to crack down on organized retail theft.

This is not casual shoplifting.

"This is organized individuals or gangs, groups, who are targeting specific items for the purpose of selling to secondary markets, online, for profit,” said Steve Shepard with the Ohio Regional Organized Crime Coalition.

Shepard says these shoppers, just like law-abiding ones, come in with a shopping list.

"Baby formula, Tide, energy drinks, these are all things that are everyday needs, wants from small markets or online."

And like a savvy shopper buying in bulk, these criminals steal in bulk, but know to keep it under the $1,000 threshold that makes it a felony.

"They literally do it every day or multiple times a day,” said Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine.  “And each offense, they try to keep under that threshold dollar figure because if they do get caught, they don't want to go away for a long time."

So they avoid a hefty jail sentence, but stick consumers and taxpayers with the bill, estimated at $40 billion a year.

And that is why DeWine says he'd like to see the law changed to allow police to add up the cumulative costs of their thefts, to make them eligible for more serious charges and punishment.

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