CHICAGO, Ill. (WTVO) — Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker signed a retail theft crime bill on Friday, at Chicago’s Water Tower Place, which has been hit by mobs of teen robbers in recent years.
The bill will create stiffer penalties for ringleaders of “smash and grab” thefts and makes it easier to prosecute them.
House Bill 1091, otherwise known as the INFORM Act, enforces the new crime of Organized Retail Theft. Those who violate the crime by knowingly engaging with others in a theft valued at $300 or more would be guilty of a Class 3 felony. Those who engage in retail theft from one or more establishments would be guilty of a Class 2 felony.
“Smash and grab” robberies have been an issue at malls and jewelry stores across the country, including Rockford.
“This new law represents another important step to fight crime and advance public safety in Illinois,” said Pritzker. “This is how we protect store workers and customers, prevent militarized storefronts and empty commercial corridors, and across the board, make communities safer for all who call them home. And I look forward to furthering our work to shape a public safety system that works for all of us, including ensuring the victim rights advanced today are carried throughout our justice system.”
The bill defines organized retail theft in Illinois as a felony and eliminates jurisdictional issues for prosecutors when a theft happens in one county and is sold in another.
Last December alone, Attorney General Kwame Raoul’s Organized Retail Crime Task Force retrieved $1 million worth of stolen goods from storage units.
The law also requires online sellers to collect identification and contact information for people trying to sell many items at once.
“Serious criminal activities, including gunrunning and drug trafficking, have been funded using proceeds from the sales of merchandise stolen through organized retail crimes. This is not just a criminal problem – this hurts consumers as well. That is why we need online marketplaces to do their part,” Raoul said.