New State Law Targets Shoplifting, Organized Retail Theft

Date: September 14, 2023

The measure calls for additional law enforcement training and stiffer penalties

This summer, Gov. Kay Ivey signed SB206, the Retail Theft Crime Prevention Act, into law. The measure is meant to protect merchants from smash-and-grab robberies, shoplifting, and other crimes. It took effect on Sept. 1.

“Retail theft isn’t new,” NFIB State Director Rosemary Elebash said. “What prompted this law is a rise in groups of people rushing into a store, often during regular business hours, grabbing as much merchandise as they can carry, then fleeing before police can respond.”

These so-called “flash mob” robberies aren’t as common in Alabama as they are in some other states, but they do happen, Elebash said. In January, three people smashed a case at the Apple store in Birmingham and stole an unspecified number of iPhones while customers and store workers looked on. There were no reports of injuries.

“Our hope is that the Retail Theft Crime Prevention Act will discourage people from committing these acts by imposing tougher penalties,” Elebash said.

The measure, which was sponsored by Sen. Clyde Chambliss (Prattville) and Rep. Allen Treadaway (Morris) creates the crime of retail theft in varying degrees and creates the crime of organized retail theft, a Class B felony.

Under the law, retail theft includes shoplifting, altering price tags, and failing to scan an item at a self-checkout. Organized retail theft includes conspiring with others to commit a retail theft, using “a wireless telecommunication device or other digital or electronic device to facilitate the theft of retail merchandise,” and remaining inside a business after closing time to facilitate a theft.

Upon convention, individuals can be ordered to make restitution.

The Retail Theft Crime Prevention Act also calls for additional training for prosecutors and police agencies on how to combat retail theft.



Related Content: Small Business News | Alabama

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