Retail CEOs blaming online sales for smash-and-grab surge

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A collective effort by the nation’s largest retailers is turning to the Democrat-run Congress for help amid a growing trend of smash-and-grab robberies by hordes of looters who all but empty shelves in a matter of minutes. The problem being that many in the party openly support so-called criminal justice reforms that contribute to the crimes, be it reduced or no bail at all, downgrading the severity of theft charges, or opting not to prosecute at all based on an alleged systemically racist system.

Representatives of the Retail Industry Leaders Association sent a letter to Congress looking for help in “cutting off the resale pipeline for stolen goods, which they say is enabled by online marketplaces that don’t do enough to verify the identity of sellers,” Yahoo Finance reported.

Signed by the chief executives of 20 retailers, including Best Buy, Target, Nordstrom, Home Depot and Dollar General, the letter said every major online marketplace is commonly used to sell stolen items by people setting up fake online accounts. The retailers are urging House and Senate leaders to pass legislation that would make it more difficult for anonymous accounts to sell their ill-gotten booty online. Others signing the letter include the CEOs of Neiman Marcus, Levi Strauss, Rite Aid, and Walgreens Boots Alliance.

“Criminals are capitalizing on the anonymity of the Internet and the failure of certain marketplaces to verify their sellers,” the CEOs wrote, according to Yahoo Finance.

“This trend has made retail businesses a target for increasing theft, hurt legitimate businesses who are forced to compete against unscrupulous sellers, and has greatly increased consumer exposure to unsafe and dangerous counterfeit products,” the letter further stated.

Retailers such as Louis Vuitton, Best Buy, and Home Depot have been hit hard recently by “flash mob” robberies, resulting in some cases to store employees being injured by the armed mobs, and the retail association wants online marketplaces to have to verify high-volume third-party sellers via government ID, tax ID, bank account information, and contact information.

Citing the National Retail Federation, the article put the estimated cost of such crimes at “roughly $700,000 for every $1 billion in sales,” adding that based on holiday sales forecast, retailers stand to lose at least $590 million the last two months of the year — their busiest season of the year.

Meanwhile, in the city of Chicago, Democratic Mayor Lori Lightfoot essentially blamed retailers for not doing enough to prevent smash-and-grab heists.

“We also got to push retailers. Some of the retailers downtown and [on] Michigan Avenue, I will tell you, I’m disappointed that they are not doing more to take safety and make it a priority,” she said last week. “For example, we still have retailers that won’t institute plans like having security officers in their stores, making sure that they’ve got cameras that are actually operational, locking up their merchandise at night. Chaining high-end bags, these purses seem to be something that is attracting a lot of attention on these organized retail theft units.”

Just a few days after those remarks, one of the more brazen robberies the nation has seen thus far took place at the Gold Coast Exotic Motors dealership in the Windy City.

Security footage showed that the targeted merchandise was, in fact, locked up in a display case, as two men entered the store and smashed open a case, getting away with at least seven high-end luxury watches worth millions of dollars.


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Tom Tillison


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