Oregon Senate unanimously passes bills aimed at organized retail crime

Published: Mar. 21, 2023 at 10:12 PM PDT
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PORTLAND Ore. (KPTV) - On Tuesday, the Senate Judiciary Committee unanimously passed a package of bills aimed at curtailing organized retail theft. The bills now head to the Senate floor.

“Oregon has become one of the most active states regarding organized retail crime and many retailers are reporting losing millions of dollars in loss per store location,” said Senator Tim Knopp, the sponsor of SB 900. “What you tolerate, you will get more of and we can no longer tolerate this.”

The amended SB 900 would establish a $5 million grant fund for law enforcement to support organized retail theft enforcement actions. Senator Knopp stated in the Senate Judiciary Committee meeting that the grant program would be administered by the Criminal Justice Commission to support organized retail theft enforcement and action.

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“There are three categories of grants that will be established,” said Senator Knopp. “Grants awarded on a competitive basis to cities and counties and then grants awarded on a competitive basis to community-based organizations, and then grants awarded to the department. I want to be clear: this is not about shoplifting. This is literally organized criminal behavior that is providing greater coordination and we need to make sure that law enforcement, prosecutors, and businesses are able to identify and disrupt and prosecute these organized criminal rings because they are stealing billions of dollars of goods across the country.”

More on Senate Bill 900 and the proposed amendment.

The amended Senate Bill 318 would allocate funding to the Department of Justice to fund positions tasked with investigating and prosecuting organized retail theft. The amount the bill would fund is yet to be determined. More on Senate Bill 318 and proposed amendments.

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The amended Senate Bill 340 would make several policy changes to the Oregon criminal code to ensure retailers and law enforcement have the necessary tools to detect, deter, and hold those who commit organized retail theft accountable. It also addresses employee safety when concerning organized retail theft groups. More on Senate Bill 340 and the proposed amendment.

Members of the Oregon Organized Retail Crime Task Force released statements following the passage of the bills.

“Organized Retail Crime is one of the most pressing and fastest-growing issues for grocery stores in Oregon right now,” said Amanda Dalton, the Northwest Grocery Association President. “In the past year our members have seen incidents double and ORC suspects have become brazen and dangerous, putting the safety of customers and employees at risk. We thank Chair Prozanski and the Senate Judiciary Committee for recognizing the seriousness of this issue and for providing a sense of urgency in addressing it.”

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“This is not petty theft!” said Jeremy Girard, President of the Organized Retail Crime Association of Oregon. “Our loss prevention officers are dealing with dangerous organized crime rings. Our recommended legislative package provides critical tools to businesses, prosecutors, and law enforcement that will aid in addressing organized retail crime. ORC and related organized crime syndicates cost legitimate businesses, American taxpayers, and our government billions of dollars per year.”

You can watch the full Senate Judiciary Committee meeting here.