Chicago Crime: State Attorney Kim Foxx Reflects On Changes In Retail Theft Policy

In an emailed statement, Foxx spokeswoman Cristina Villareal confirmed the office was reviewing its policy. “We believe the $ 1,000 retail threshold for felony charges is in line with that of the rest of the country, but we are committed to reviewing the data available and working with partners to see if it is. always the best policy, ”she wrote. “It is important to note that retail theft cases are not the same as smash and grab cases and organized theft rings. We will also review our policies regarding these matters. “

The previous threshold was $ 300 to $ 500. Only two other states, Florida and New Jersey, currently have lower thresholds. Foxx’s Crime Review Unit attorneys are always able to approve felony charges if they feel the circumstances warrant. Cases which did not reach the threshold could be considered as crimes.

Villareal followed up to say the bureau is confident it “won’t come back to the $ 300 threshold.”

Foxx changed the policy shortly after taking office in 2016, signaling that the priority would instead be to prosecute violent crime. The move was applauded at the time by other elected officials like Sheriff Tom Dart, who said it would reduce the prison population.

The current policy also provides for a felony prosecution if the alleged thief has 10 previous felony convictions (versus one felony conviction under the old policy). This threshold of $ 1,000 is consistent with that of other states such as Tennessee, Texas, Missouri and Alabama, and lower than that of Texas, South Carolina, Colorado, Rhode Island and Delaware. .

Retail theft is different than if a shoplifter steals goods with a gun, which is considered armed robbery. Even with the higher threshold, the Foxx office says some cases are dismissed because retailers do not appear in court.

Karr warned that Foxx made no promises to change the policy, but said a change “would send a message that the approach is going to be different, which assumes it will follow lawsuits, but that will send a message to the filing -and-classifying the DPC that it’s worth their time, it’s worth investing their time, taking reports and filing complaints, that they know there is going to be action. “

Between Jan. 1 and the end of October, 33,039 thefts were reported, according to the Foxx office, including goods valued under $ 500, retail thefts, pick-pocketing and thefts. ripped off, but only 1,262 people were arrested.

Karr reiterated its criticism of local leaders, including Mayor Lori Lightfoot, Chicago Police Department, Foxx, and local courts. “I really unload across the continuum. Our leaders seem to be pointing the finger at each other. Criminals take advantage of weak spots. . . this reflects what is happening in the city and its surroundings. . . .Someone has to say stop and let’s sit down and figure this out together. “

Retail organized crime costs retailers on average $ 700,000 for $ 1 billion in sales each year, according to the National Retail Federation. Another industrial group, Buy Safe America, estimates that crime causes billions of dollars in lost economic activity every year.

Retailers and states say theft is on the increase, although its prevalence is difficult to measure nationally.

The most commonly targeted items are branded clothing and handbags, high-end liquors, laundry detergents, allergy medications, razors and pain relievers, according to the NRF.

Highly publicized incidents of brazen and organized retail thefts, including at Oakbrook Center, Michigan Avenue and the Gold Coast, have injected an underlying current of fear into the industry’s biggest shopping season. Fear of crime slows down traffic in stores, hurts sales, and forces stores to spend more on security. Workers also fear for their safety, exacerbating the staffing issues that plagued retailers during the pandemic.

Earlier this month, law enforcement recovered millions of dollars in stolen goods from Chicago storage units as part of a broader crackdown on organized retail theft.

Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul, whose office heads the retail organized crime task force that carried out the takeover, announced the bust on December 3.

“Increasingly, these incidents are not isolated incidents, and law enforcement should not only focus on individuals accused of individual acts of retail theft, but on the organization or the broader agenda that these individuals can be a part of, ”Raoul said in a speech announcing the multi-jurisdictional task force in September.

Greg Hinz and Bloomberg News contributed to it.

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