House hosts work session on organized retail crime

Dec 1, 2021
Written by Mark Johnson, Senior Vice President of Policy and Government Affairs

The Washington State House of Representatives Committee on Consumer Protection and Business held a work session to discuss the problem of organized retail theft. The session was held virtually and chaired by Rep. Steve Kirby (D-29 Tacoma).

The work session included three guest presenters. The first was a representative from The Home Depot who explained the magnitude of the problem nationally and for our state. He explained how his company, and many other retailers, large and small, have suffered brazen thefts from their stores. He shared video of ORC thieves threatening and assaulting store employees and customers. High theft items include electric power equipment, flooring, and other home improvement products.

The second speaker was from Walgreen’s, who highlighted how some stolen and resold products could potentially be unsafe due to a limited shelf life. High theft products such as baby food formula could be dangerous if not stored properly or past their expiration date.

The final presenter was from the Internet Association, representing many internet retailers. She explained that an agreement had been reached between national brick-and-mortar and online retailers on a safety and verification bill currently before Congress. Efforts are underway to include the bill in the end-of-year defense appropriations act – which historically has received strong bipartisan support.

Chairman Kirby concluded the meeting by stating his intent to run a bill modeled after the federal bill if Congress fails to pass one.

Organized retail theft continues to be one of WR’s top priorities and is a pertinent topic for discussion at this week’s WR hybrid board meeting to be held in Bellevue, WA.