Governor JB Pritzker signs retail theft bill to crack down on burglaries

CHICAGO (WLS) — After several smash-and-grabs at suburban malls and many high-end stores along Michigan Avenue, Gov. JB Pritzker on Friday signed a bill imposing tougher penalties on those who commit retail crimes.

“It’s about the safety of our communities,” Pritzker said. “It’s about preventing militarized storefronts and empty advertisements.”

The governor put pen to paper to sign the Inform Act, which enforces the new crime of organized retail theft.

It’s the latest step in Illinois’ efforts to crack down on a crime that plagues businesses large and small in the state.

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Surveillance videos have captured several incidents showing crowds of people rushing into stores to steal goods ranging from luxury goods to convenience stores, even when employees or customers are inside. Macy’s, Nordstrom, Burberry and LensCrafters along the Mag Mile were all affected.

Last December alone, Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul’s Organized Crime Task Force recovered $1 million worth of items stolen from storage units.

Also in December, a group of 14 ransacked the Louis Vuitton in Oak Brook, taking $120,000 worth of merchandise.

WATCH | 14 people involved in the kidnapping of Oak Brook Louis Vuitton

The new law cracks down on the ringleaders organizing these crimes who profit from it and use it to fund other illegal activities.

“It’s not for a low-income parent desperate to feed their child,” Governor Pritzker said. “This is not about a child making a short-sighted mistake. This is a multi-billion dollar industry of organized criminals who carry out sophisticated theft operations to generate a profit in the market of resale.”

Under the new law, those who knowingly engage with others in theft worth $300 or more would be guilty of a class three felony. Those who engage in retail theft at one or more establishments would be guilty of a class two felony, which would result in more jail time.

“Deterring retail crime starts with supporting law enforcement, holding ringleaders accountable and making it harder to sell these stolen goods,” said State Senator Suzy Glowiak Hilton.

The Burberry Michigan Ave store. robbed for second time in a week, Chicago police say

The law allows prosecutors to bring perpetrators to justice even if the conspiracy, theft and/or sale crosses county lines. They are now able to prosecute the whole crime.

The Illinois Retail Merchants Association has partnered with several lawmakers to make the law a reality.

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