Billions of dollars lost each year
Retailers and online marketplaces throughout California have signed an information-sharing agreement that targets organized retail crime, which causes billions of dollars in losses each year, officials announced this week.
Organized retail crime refers to large-scale theft and fraud by individuals or groups that steal retail goods with the intent to resell, distribute or return stolen merchandise for financial gain. In some cases, resale may occur through eBay and other online platforms.
According to a 2020 survey, retailers nationwide lose about $700,000 to organized retail crime per every $1 billion in sales. In the agreement, the parties agree to take steps aimed at increasing the detection and reporting of organized retail crime, as well as improved collaboration with law enforcement, California Attorney General Rob Bonta said.
“The fact is, we are stronger when we work together as a united front,'' Bonta said in a statement.
“Organized retail crime costs businesses, retailers and consumers–and puts the public at risk. This new partnership signals a robust and genuine commitment shared by the retail marketplace and law enforcement to crack down on these crimes. Today's announcement demonstrates California's resilience and tenacity in tackling these challenges within our state. Whether it is law enforcement, online marketplaces or retailers–we will not tolerate organized retail crime in our state.''
In recent years, organized theft groups have targeted Apple Store and Home Depot locations, cargo trucks that had departed from Microsoft shipping facilities and cargo containers on idle trains in downtown Los Angeles. In 2022, California passed into law a package of legislation to address retail crime. Bonta said the new agreement advances the intent and purpose of the legislation, which includes:
— Senate Bill 301, which provides threshold requirements for marketplaces to collect and store information related to third party high-volume sellers and consistent with California privacy laws, and requires online marketplaces to suspect future sales activities of high-volume third-party sellers who are not in compliance with these reporting requirements; and
— Assembly Bill 1700, which creates an online reporting tool managed by the AG's office that provides the public with a mechanism for reporting organized retail theft.
“eBay is committed to providing a secure online shopping experience to millions of people globally and has been very serious about battling stolen goods,'' Zhi Zhou, the chief risk officer for eBay, said.
“We have zero tolerance for criminal activity on our platform and are proud to support Attorney General Bonta and other online marketplaces in this effort to curtail organized retail theft and support criminal prosecutions against those who try to use our platform to sell stolen goods.''
The online portal for the public to submit complaints and tips can be found at oag.ca.gov/retailtheft.