Illinois Governor JB Pritzker signs the Retail Anti-Theft Bill into law to eliminate burglaries and seizures

CHICAGO (WLS) – After several smashing and yanking in suburban malls and in many upscale shops along Michigan Avenue, Governor J.B. Pritzker on Friday signed off on a bill that would impose tougher penalties on retail offenders.

“This is about the safety of our communities,” Pritzker said. “It’s about banning military storefronts and emptying shops.”

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

It’s the latest step in Illinois’ efforts to combat the crime that has plagued businesses large and small across the state.

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

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 people looted Louis Vuitton in Oak Brook, taking away $120,000 in merchandise.

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The new law cracks down on the gang leaders who organize these crimes and who profit from and use them to fund other illegal activities.

“This is not aimed at the low-income parent who is desperate to feed their children,” Governor Pritzker said. “It’s not about a child making a short-sighted mistake. It’s about a multibillion dollar industry of organized criminals carrying out sophisticated heist to make a profit in the resale market.”

As part of the new law, those who knowingly engage with others in a theft of $300 or more will be guilty of a third-degree felony.

“These raids and business not only put retail employees and customers at risk, but they deprive local and state municipalities of much-needed tax money,” said Chauncey Rice, of the Illinois Retailers Association.

Those who engage in retail theft from one or more establishments would be guilty of a second-degree felony, which would result in a longer prison term.

“Deterring retail crime starts with supporting law enforcement, holding gang leaders accountable and making the sale of those stolen goods tougher,” said state senator Susie Gluyak Hilton.

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The law allows prosecutors to bring perpetrators to justice even if the conspiracy, theft, and/or sale extends beyond county boundaries. They are now able to prosecute the entire crime.

The Illinois Retailers Association has collaborated with several lawmakers to make the law a reality.

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