The state Senate Law and Justice Committee today voted last week to advance Sen. Nikki Torres’ legislation to further define the crime of organized retail to theft.
Under SB 5160, a person would be guilty of second-degree organized retail theft for stealing property with a cumulative value of at least $750 with two or more accomplices who enter the store within five minutes of one another.
“Thank you, Senator Torres, for bringing this legislation forward,” Mark Johnson, WR Senior VP of Policy & Government Affairs told the committee during a hearing last week. “This is an important tool in the fight against organized retail crime.”
According to Johnson, Washington ranks second in the nation in theft per capita, with more than $2.7 billion in goods stolen from retailers every year. This leads to increased costs to consumers and approximately $250 million in lost tax revenue to state and local governments.
Larry Shannon with the Washington State Association for Justice, which had opposed a similar measure (SB 5781) last session, testified that the current bill is “clean” and no longer contains problematic language that prevented his organization from supporting previous versions of the bill.
“This bill addresses a very significant problem, and we commend it to you,” he told the committee.
SB 5160 has been passed to the Rules Committee for a second hearing.