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SD Cracks Down On Organized Retail Theft

March 17, 2014, 10:00 PM by Angela Kennecke

SD Cracks Down On Organized Retail Theft

Groups of people hitting stores with fake credit card numbers or going in to steal large quantities of merchandise: organized retail crime is a growing problem in South Dakota.  But the state has tough new laws against it and that should help save you money.

When you hit the aisles of Lewis Drug, you can expect that someone is always watching.  Security cameras are a big part of catching retail crime. 

"Something we're seeing with the organized end of it is a team coming in and shoplifting together, where before it might just be one individual. Now it's two or three or more people involved with it," Director of Safety and Loss Prevention for Lewis Drug Herb Rosin said.

That's the kind of thing new laws in South Dakota aim to crack down on. 

"This isn't shoplifting.  Shoplifting is a whole different subject, a misdemeanor type crime. This is organized--the conspiracy concept.  There it's a very organized and thought through process," Attorney General Marty Jackley said.

It costs South Dakota retailers $95 million a year and consumers end up picking up the tab.

"The things that you buy have a higher markup because of retail theft and as a taxpayer there's a loss of about $3.6 million in tax revenues to local governments and state in loss of sales tax," Jackley said.

The law also makes it a crime for an accomplice to either activate a fire exit alarm or deactivate one to help someone steal merchandise from a store.

"Often times what we see with organized retail theft, if they'll block a fire exit, disarm an alarm system, create other public safety issue in addition to the theft," Jackley said.

And under the new law people found guilty of organized retail crime face stiffer penalties.  Stealing more than a $1,000 worth of merchandise becomes a felony and possible prison time. 

The new organized retail crime laws are under the new consumer protection laws signed by the governor last week.

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