WASHINGTON (DC News Now) — Newly proposed legislation from D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser is taking aim at organized retail theft.
The legislation, titled the Addressing Crime Trends Now Act of 2023, creates criminal penalties for organized retail theft and establishes a new crime for directing organized retail theft.
“People want great businesses in their neighborhoods, they want to go to stores and restaurants, and they don’t want to worry about those businesses being robbed repeatedly and brazenly,” Bowser said.
Retailers across the District have been directly affected by organized retail theft.
In February, Chanel at City Center was the target of a flash mob. Over a dozen people were caught on surveillance cameras running into the store, setting off a fire extinguisher, and stealing products.
The Giant on Alabama Avenue in Southeast, D.C. announced earlier this year that it is pulling most national name brand products from its shelves due to the abundance of theft at this location.
The CVS on 14th Street in Columbia Heights has nearly empty shelves and inventory due to repeated issues with theft.
“They stole the whole store. There’s nothing in the store. You can’t even get a water,” said Mark Ward, who stopped in the CVS Monday. “I’ve never seen nothing like that in my life.”
According to the National Retail Federation, retailers across the country reported more than $112 billion in lost or stolen inventory in 2022.
In a statement, David Johnston, NRF Vice President of Asset Protection and Retail Operation, told DC News Now:
“Organized retail crime continues to drive accelerated levels of theft against the retail industry. We applaud community leaders and legislators who recognize that a key step in reducing these crimes includes the adoption of specific laws and penalties aimed at disrupting and dismantling those involved in organized retail crime groups.”David Johnston, NRF Vice President of Asset Protection and Retail Operation
Still, some shoppers are skeptical that adding more penalties will make a difference regarding organized theft.
“They’re still going in the store and do what they want to do,” said D.C. resident Tawanna Edmundson.
She said she would prefer the District invest in more programs for kids and employment opportunities for adults.
“They’re talking a lot of nonsense to me because I don’t see a lot of hands-on hands, get out and talk to the community,” Edmundson said.