CHICAGO — Governor JB Pritzker signed a bill to impose harsher punishments on people who carry out organized retail crimes, including smash-and-grab burglaries.
Pritzker signed the bill at Water Tower Place Friday morning.
The bill creates stiffer penalties for ringleaders of these thefts and makes it a little easier to prosecute them.
State officials said Friday that organized retail theft is a multi-billion dollar a year industry nationwide and deprives local governments millions in tax revenue.
Smash-and-grabs have been an issue at malls in the suburbs, as well as high-end shops on Michigan Avenue and throughout the city. During a smash-and-grab, a group of people run in and grab as much merchandise as they can and then flee.
“It’s a dangerous trend for store employees and customers a like,” Pritzker said.
The Illinois Attorney General’s Organized Retail Crime Task Force, along with the Illinois Retailer Merchants Association, helped craft the bill with lawmakers which was passed back in April. It did get some Republican support though, many called it a watered down version of the original bill.
Still, for the first time it defines organized retail crime in the state and it is a felony. It also eliminates a jurisdictional issue for prosecutors, such as when a theft happens in one county and the items are sold in another.
Online market places will also be required to collect and verify the identity and contact information for people trying to sell a lot of items at once.
Pritzker has been trying to highlight recent crime bills he’s signed into law, as Republicans trying to unseat him has targeted his administration and Democrats as not being tough on crime.