Organized retail theft is growing across the country, and Chicago is one of several cities being hit particularly hard. According to the Chicago Tribune, Chicago joins cities like New York, Los Angeles, Miami, Houston, and Baltimore/DC in the top ten cities where retail theft rings are operating.
These organized theft rings steal large quantities of goods from retailers and resell them for a dramatic markup. They are sold online, shipped overseas, or sold out of the trunks of cars, making the thieves a significant profit for their risk.
According to a report from the National Retail Federation, 89% of retailers were affected by organized theft in 2010. In 2011, it climbed to 96%. Losses are estimated to be between $15 and $30 billion annually.
The rise is attributed in part to the ease at which the thieves are able to turn over the goods in exchange for money. Selling stolen goods online is easy and gives them a return of about 70 cents on the dollar. Even when they are sold in person they can earn 30 cents on the dollar.
What’s being done to stop the increase in theft rings? Retailers are taking more proactive steps towards prevention. According to the NRF report, 52% of retailers are spending money on fighting organized theft, that’s compared with 46% from the last annual report.
The vast majority of thefts are not done as part of an organized theft ring and instead are committed by a single person, acting alone. But this doesn’t make the crimes any less serious. A theft offense, whether you are acting alone or in an organized group, has the potential to change your life dramatically.
While organized theft may be viewed as more serious by the courts, because it typically takes more planning and results in greater loss to the retailer, individual theft offenses are often penalized with prison time and lasting repercussions.
According to Illinois statutes, you only have to steal something valued at more than $300 for it to be considered a felony theft. This means, a stolen television, or even a camera could result in a felony charge and up to 7 years in prison.
The consequences for theft crimes can be quite serious indeed. If you are accused of a theft, you need someone on your side working to minimize the effect of the charges on your life. Contact our offices to discuss your case and the options available to you.