WR joins Seattle City Auditor’s Office in Organized Retail Crime Audit presentation

Jun 25, 2024
Written by WR Communications

Mark Johnson, WR’s Sr. Vice President of Policy and Government Affairs, recently presented crucial updates on the 2023 Organized Retail Crime (ORC) Audit alongside the Seattle City Auditor at the Seattle City Council’s Governance, Accountability, and Economic Development Committee meeting. The City of Seattle’s Auditor’s office conducted this comprehensive audit, highlighting the intricate operations driving ORC in Seattle.

Johnson emphasized the severe financial impact of ORC on the local and state economy, noting that the rise in ORC is partly due to the increased use of online marketplaces for selling stolen goods through “fencing.” Fencing is a sophisticated criminal activity where stolen merchandise from Seattle is shipped overseas, sold online, or peddled in storefronts and unregulated markets.

Johnson also provided an update on federal and state legislation recently passed and under discussion to tackle ORC more effectively.

The audit proposes seven actionable steps for Seattle to bolster its fight against ORC:

  1. Enhance City collaboration with agencies, including the new Organized Retail Crime Unit in the Washington State Attorney General’s Office.
  2. Utilize federal and state crime analysis resources.
  3. Conduct in-custody interviews with “boosters” to gain insights on fencing operations.
  4. Explore new technological solutions to combat ORC.
  5. Implement place-based strategies to disrupt illegal street markets.
  6. Adhere to the King County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office “prosecution checklist” for ORC cases.
  7. Support legislation addressing ORC.

Despite resource constraints, particularly within the Seattle Police Department, the recommendations focus on leveraging collaborations, existing resources, and new technologies. SPD has committed to working with the City to implement recommendations, marking a significant step towards curbing organized retail crime in Seattle.

View the meeting


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