The BBA, along with the VT Retail & Grocer’s Assoc. and the Church Street Marketplace have partnered to pursue changes at the state legislative level that would help Vermont retailers who are the victims of high level retail theft, also known as Organized Retail Crime (ORC).
ORC is retail theft that includes:
- Multiple people working in teams
- Multiple instances within a given time frame (i.e. 2-3 thefts in one day, or repeated instances over a given course of days or weeks)
- Thefts that are valued at or over the $900 felony level
- The use of “booster bags” (Aluminum foil lined bags- pictured above)
- Tampering with in store security tags
Currently, Vermont’s laws make retail theft a simple misdemeanor if the dollar value is below $900. It only reaches a felony when an individual steals $900 worth of merchandise or more. Current laws do consider retail theft a felony if “booster bags” are used or security tags are tampered with.
ORC is currently tied to a dollar amount, which individuals who are participating in these thefts are aware of. An individual or group can steal multiple times over the course of days or weeks, and as long as each instance is below $900 they will never be prosecuted as a felony, despite the total loss being worth thousands of dollars.
Current laws do not account for number of instances or teams working together, or multiple instances. Felony charge can only be brought if one continuous act in one day (hitting multiple stores wouldn’t count). The courts have typically treated the felony amount of $900 as a window, i.e. if the amount is slightly over it will likely be dropped down to a misdemeanor.
$40 Billion is lost nationally annually to Retail theft. Half of VT retailers have experienced instances of ORC, with the majority of instances including multiple people working in teams. The BBA’s Safety & Security committee, made up of loss prevention experts from Burlington, is helping us to pursue this change, and working with surrounding retailers, law enforcement and VT courts to educate business owners, law makers and the public on why this change is needed.
More information can be found at: https://nrf.com/resources/retail-safety-and-security/organized-retail-crime
The BBA is conducting a survey to compile data that will give us an overview of the impacts of retail theft and ORC on retailers throughout Vermont.