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Retail CEOs blast wave of crime, call on Congress to take action against stolen good sales

Nearly two dozen CEOs of prominent retailers like Home Depot, Target, Best Buy, and CVS have signed on to a letter to Congress, urging them to address the "growing impact of organized retail crime on retail employees and communities" in America.

The letter was sent Thursday by the Retail Industry Leaders Association (RILA) and supported by 20 leading retail chief-executives representing apparel, sporting goods, electronics, home improvement, and health and beauty supplies.

The letter urges Congress to pass the Integrity, Notification and Fairness in Online Retail Marketplaces (INFORM) for Consumers Act, which makes it harder for stolen merchandise to be sold online by thieves or scammers who engage in organized retail crime, such as smash-and-grab robberies. The legislation, as reported, would require platforms to verify the identifies of sellers.

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"Leading retailers are concerned about the growing impact organized retail crime is having on the communities we proudly serve," RILA wrote in the letter, highlighting support for the INFORM Consumers Act. "This important legislation will modernize our consumer protection laws to safeguard families and communities from the sale of illicit products and we urge its quick passage."

RILA also noted in the letter that "criminals are capitalizing on the anonymity of the Internet and the failure of certain marketplaces to verify their sellers" which makes "businesses a target for increasing theft" and hurts "legitimate businesses who are forced to compete against unscrupulous sellers."

"There is no simple answer to stopping organized retail crime or the sale of counterfeits — but key to stemming the tide of these growing problems is transparency," the letter stated, pointing to a "lack of transparency on particular third-party marketplaces" which have "allowed criminal activity to fester."

The letter was signed by retail leaders from popular stores including Academy Sports + Outdoors, Best Buy Co., Inc., Nordstrom, Inc., DICK’S Sporting Goods, Inc., Target Corporation, Dollar General Corporation, CVS Health, The Home Depot, Inc., and Ulta Beauty, Inc.

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A number of smash-and-grab robberies, mostly concentrated in the San Francisco and Los Angeles areas, have led to increased security at malls. In addition, California Highway Patrol has increased its presence along highways near shopping destinations.

The National Retail Federation reported an increase in shoplifting and robberies — linking both to organized retail crime. The NRF said that 69% of retailers reported an increase in organized retail crime in 2021, citing the COVID-19 pandemic, policing, changes to sentencing guidelines and growth of online marketplaces for the increase in ORC activity.

Fox News' Emma Colton and Brooke Singman contributed to this article. Read more of this story on FOX Business