Legislators Introducing FORCE Act to Fight Organized Retail Crime;
$72.8B Annual Retail Losses Also Impact Consumer Safety and Pricing;
Merchants Thank General Assembly and Attorney General Yost for Leadership on National Fight Retail Crime Day
(Columbus, October 26, 2023) To combat rising losses from organized retail crime in Ohio, the FORCE Act (Fight Organized Retail Crime and Empower Law Enforcement) will soon be introduced by State Senators George Lang (R- West Chester) and Michael Rulli (R- Salem) and State Representative Haraz Ghanbari (R-Perrysburg).
“The companion bills mark a major step forward in addressing a dramatically growing problem for retailers and consumers alike,” said Gordon Gough, President/CEO of the Ohio Council of Retail Merchants. “We are grateful for the support of many leading legislators and Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost in addressing this problem.
“It’s especially fitting to talk about this issue today, National Fight Retail Crime Day, so more Ohioans understand that organized retail crime is more than just petty shoplifting. Sophisticated criminal networks now target a wide variety of products from power tools, footwear, electronic devices to high-priced fashion items. These losses added up to more than $72.8 billion nationally in 2022, up from $61.9 billion in 2021. This is an estimated $2.6 billion in losses for Ohio retailers in a single year.
“Far more than this financial impact, the FORCE Act also addresses Ohioans’ growing concern over violence and safety for customers and store associates,” Gough said.
“This legislation will give Ohio law enforcement officials and our judicial system more tools to apprehend and punish criminals while protecting consumers and retailers,” Gough concluded. “We look forward to working with Ohio leaders to tackle this problem effectively.”
The bill’s sponsors and Attorney General Yost outlined their rationale for support.
State Representative Haraz Ghanbari (R-Perrysburg):
“Ohio is not going to tolerate our retailers and communities being preyed upon by organized theft rings. We are not going to stand idly by. The FORCE Act prioritizes the safety and wellbeing of Ohio retailers and their customers. This legislation is a comprehensive approach to the complex challenge of organized retail crime. I look forward to advancing the FORCE Act with the support of my fellow members of the General Assembly.”
State Senator George Lang (R- West Chester):
“The FORCE Act provides crucial resources to the Attorney General, law enforcement agencies, and local prosecutors to better combat organized retail crime while helping to protect the livelihood of Ohio retailers and enhance the safety of employees and consumers. As a leader in the bicameral business first caucus, I am honored to champion this legislation along with my colleague Senator Rulli.”
State Senator Michael Rulli (R- Salem):
“As a retailer, nothing is more important than protecting our customers and employees. No product is worth someone’s life. The sad reality is that the rates of theft and violence are increasing. It is our obligation as elected officials to do what we can to support our businesses and address the scourge of organized retail crime. The FORCE Act does just that, it provides resources for combating crime and signals to Ohio businesses and consumers that we have their back.”
Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost:
“Ohio’s businesses are losing millions to organized retail theft, and consumers are bearing the burden of price hikes to make up for the losses. We’re pooling the resources of law enforcement and the business community to make sure the criminals – not the consumers – pay the price.”
Founded in 1922, the Ohio Council of Retail Merchants is Ohio’s leading trade association for the retail and wholesale industries, which provides one in four Ohio jobs through more than 7,500 members statewide and serves millions of Ohioans daily.
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