The Business Council supports this legislation that would address the growing problem of “organized retail theft.” This bill allows for crimes committed in contiguous counties to be prosecuted in a single county, when the alleged crimes are part of a pattern of criminal activity. A single criminal court within one county associated with the pattern of organized retail thefts would be assigned jurisdiction over all related criminal offenses, people and property.
The bill also defines "organized retail theft crime" as one that “involves the larceny, embezzlement or obtaining by fraud, false pretenses or other illegal means of retail merchandise in quantities that would not normally be purchased for personal use or consumption, for the purposes of reselling, trading, or otherwise reentering such retail merchandise in commerce.”
Under the current law, even if organized retail theft in one county occurs as part of a wider pattern across counties, the courts in that county can only prosecute for crimes occurring in that county. This limitation has allowed organized criminals who understand the current law’s limitations on jurisdiction to avoid significant prosecution by committing crimes across counties, instead of committing multiple crimes within one county.
The Federal Bureau of Investigations estimates organized retail theft costs Americans over $30 billion per year. Due to the financial impact of organized retail theft and the size of the retail industry in New York State, this is an issue that needs to be addressed by the state legislature.
For these reasons, The Business Council recommends approval of S.3822-A/ A.6503-A.