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With the passage of SB 340 April 10, the Oregon Senate took an important step in combating the state’s epidemic of organized retail crime. OBI urges the House to follow suit quickly and both chambers to pass critical companion legislation.

SB 340 would make important changes to the Oregon criminal code to ensure that law enforcement agencies and retailers have the tools they need to detect, deter and hold accountable those who commit organized retail theft. The bill also would enhance employee safety in response to the threatening and dangerous behavior in which retail thieves often engage.

A pair of related bills would provide funding for anti-theft positions and initiatives.

SB 900 would establish a $5 million grant fund for law enforcement to support organized retail theft enforcement actions. SB 318 would give the Department of Justice a yet-to-be determined amount of money to fill analyst and investigator positions to combat organized retail theft. Both bills are currently in the Joint Ways and Means Committee.

Organized theft is a nationwide epidemic estimated to have claimed nearly $70 billion worth of products in 2019, which represents about 1.5% of all sales. In Oregon, the phenomenon has robbed the state of roughly $1.4 billion in economic activity, 8,000 jobs and $40 million in tax revenue.