CHICAGO–(ENEWSPF)–December 9, 2010. Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez recently announced formation of a first-of-its-kind task force to investigate and prosecute the crime of organized retail theft and fencing, a growing consumer problem that drives up costs for businesses as well as their customers.
The Cook County State’s Attorney’s Regional Organized Crime Task Force includes representatives from law enforcement and the retail industry from throughout the Cook County region. With formation of the task force, the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office becomes the first prosecutor’s office in the nation to join together with law enforcement and retailers to develop a unified and proactive plan to tackle this type of crime.
Alvarez noted that organized retail theft and fencing has a direct impact on consumers on many levels, including driving up consumer prices and presenting potential dangers to consumer health and safety. She said the crime also causes an extensive loss of much-needed sales tax revenues in the county and the state. According to consumer reports, it is estimated that Illinois loses $77 million in tax revenues each year as a result of organized retail theft and fencing.
“We will be working together to increase the prosecution of large-scale organized retail theft as well as sharing all of our resources and intelligence to prevent this crime,” said Alvarez. “And those that will receive the greatest benefits will be the consumers of Cook County who take a direct hit to their pocketbooks as a result of these crimes.”
The task force will conduct regular investigative meetings that will bring law enforcement and retailers together in a working group to discuss investigations, ongoing issues of concern and potential legislative initiatives.
In addition, with private sector funding from retail partners, the task force has launched a website that will provide law enforcement and retailers an important resource to share information and prevent organized retail theft. The website will allow retail members to input information from crimes occurring in their stores and then use that information to create mapping patterns and to identify fencing operations for potential investigations.