FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
JANUARY 25, 2022
Tallahassee, FL – The Senate Committee on Criminal Justice unanimously passed Senate Bill 1534, Retail Theft, by Senator Jim Boyd in a 9-0 vote during its first stop.
SB 1534 is a priority of Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody and Florida’s retail industry. The legislation will define and add penalties for organized retail theft in Florida.
Presented by Senator Ed Hooper on behalf of Senator Boyd, the legislation will implement additional tools to prosecute the growing crime of retail theft. The bill focuses on the activity of "boosters."
"Boosters" are criminals who steal multiple items from multiple retail locations in a short period of time. As a result, it is difficult to quantify how much in value was stolen from the premises.
During Tuesday's meeting, Grace Lovett, Vice President of Government Affairs of the Florida Retail Federation, testified in support of this legislation.
"Organized retail crime (ORC) is a multi-billion dollar problem for retailers that turns into a cost for consumers," explained Lovett. "It's getting worse. It's getting more frequent, and it's getting more dangerous. We are grateful to have an Attorney General that has made combatting ORC a priority. FRF and its members fully support this bill."
The National Retail Federation released a recent survey revealing that 69% of retailers saw an increase in organized retail crime over the past year. Sixty-five percent of retailers reported an increase in aggressive and violent gang activity than in years past.
SB 944 and its companion, HB 1511 by Representative Chuck Clemons, will work to enable Florida's judicial system holds criminals accountable for their actions.
"Organized retail crime has grown significantly over the past two years," said Scott Shalley, president and CEO of the Florida Retail Federation. "This is not petty theft from a convenience store. Organized retail crime refers to criminal gangs that routinely steal hundreds, thousands and sometimes millions of dollars of merchandise from retailers. Thanks to General Moody, Senator Boyd and Representative Clemons, we’re standing up to the gangs."
Just last month, Florida made national news when more than $1 million in goods were stolen from a small business retail storefront in Palm Beach.
The proposed legislation from General Moody will help stop organized retail theft rings attempting to evade capture and prosecution.
SB 1534 is scheduled to be heard next in the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Criminal and Civil Justice.
THE FLORIDA RETAIL FEDERATION
The Florida Retail Federation is the statewide trade association representing retailers -- the businesses that sell directly to consumers. Florida retailers provide one out of every five jobs in the state, pay more than $49 billion in wages annually, and collect and remit more than $20 billion in sales taxes for Florida’s government each year.