by | last updated on January 21, 2016
Organized retail theft costs American stores and retailers approximately $30 billion a year, according to Florida Today. Organized criminal enterprises have realized that they can still reap billions of dollars without taking the risks of facing mandatory minimum sentences for drug trafficking.Federal and state officials are revving up their efforts to address the problem of retail theft by creating the nation’s first task force to target thieves involved in money laundering and organized theft enterprises.

Organized Retail Crimes are Serious Charges

Why the sudden smack down on theft? Not only does it cost businesses billions of dollars (which affects everyone’s pocketbook), but it’s becoming rampant and widespread. And the incidence of violence in these criminal activities is on the rise as well.

The new organized retail crime task force is comprised of the:

  • U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement;
  • Florida Department of Law Enforcement; and
  • local police departments in South Florida.

The suspects targeted by the task force aren’t the petty thieves who swipe a few items; the task force targets professionals who can rake in hundreds of thousands of dollars’ worth of goods.

One recent news story involved a couple who stole $30,000 from Toys-R-Us. In another case, investigators uncovered $7,000 worth of stolen hygiene products in Broward County, according to the Miami Herald.

Organized Retail Crime Activity

New theft schemes are cropping up all the time. Organized retail crime can include tactics such as:

  • shoplifting from stores and then reselling the items online;
  • using fake receipts to return items for cash;
  • moving stolen merchandise through flea markets; and
  • returning items in exchange for store gift cards.

New Stiff Penalties for Theft Crimes

New laws now mandate a minimum of 21 months in prison for those convicted of organized retail crime. Being charged and convicted will cost these people not only their reputations but also their freedoms.

The penalties will depend upon the value of the goods stolen but in general are considered severe. Unfortunately, many individuals are mistakenly charged. One must be aware that charges can be blown out of proportion. Additionally, overzealous investigators, spurred on by the many news reports on the task force, may make inappropriate arrests.

Secure Help from a Theft Defense Lawyer

If you have recently been charged with any type of theft crime, speak with a defense attorney as soon as possible. You’ll need someone to help you build a defense and work determinedly to have the charges reduced or dismissed.

Our criminal defense attorneys know how to fight for our client’s rights and freedom, and push for the best possible outcome. Contact us at the Law Offices of Robert David Malove in Fort Lauderdale today (954) 861-0384 for a free, no-obligation consultation and let us see how we can help safeguard your future.