King5 News reports that the Organized Retail Crime Theft Task Force was recently formed. State Attorney General Bob Ferguson says the Task Force will focus on sophisticated, organized crime rings and work to stop them.
According to the Retail Industry Leaders Association, organized theft cost Washington’s retailers around $2.7 billion last year.
Given the magnitude of losses, State Attorney General Bob Ferguson says it’s vital that multiple agencies and retailers work together because organized retail theft is simply too big for one organization to take on alone.
“No one retail store, no one prosecutor, no one attorney general, no one US Attorney can solve the problem. It’s just way too big. I found in my experience, from working with other task forces and other contexts, that sharing of information helps with enforcement, helps with prevention, raises the profile of the issue, and gets folks in the room to make sure we go after the bad guys, hold them accountable, and the provide the resources we need to help retailers and small businesses who’re dealing with these challenges.” ~State Attorney General Bob Ferguson
Organized crime could look like three men coordinating an early morning break-in, or it could occur on a smaller scale, like at the downtown Seattle Target, where police arrested a man after he stole alcohol 22 times over the course of a few days.
However, one of the biggest concerns of the task force is stolen baby formula, which is then resold on secondary sites like Amazon and becomes a risk for parents.
“That means that parents who unwittingly buy stolen formula on the secondary market may be putting their babies at significant risk if the thieves, for example, fail to store the product at the appropriate temperatures, or if the thieves manipulated the packaging, such as exchanging the expiration date,” Ferguson said.
He said the task force hopes to have an immediate impact statewide.
“We’re all stepping up to address what really is a true crisis in our state (and) … has significant implications for businesses and for the people of our state,” said Ferguson.
In Washington, Organized Retail Theft is a Class C Felony. Please contact my office if you, a friend or family member are charged with Theft or any other crime. Hiring an effective and competent defense attorney is the first and best step toward justice.