A new piece of legislation proposed in the Minnesota State Legislature seeks to deter organized retail crime throughout the state.

S.F. 3487, introduced by State Senator Warren Limmer (R-Maple Grove), would establish a legal statute for the crime and details various levels of penalties.

According to Limmer, organized retail crime is when any person “steals or fraudulently obtains retail merchandise from a retailer; resells or intends to resell it; advertises or displays it for sale; returns it to the retailer for anything of value; or the act occurs within five years of a previous conviction.”

Depending on an individual’s previous criminal record and the items stolen, they could be sentenced to up to a 15-year statutory maximum felony.

“In 2020, 75% of retailers saw an increase in organized crime, and I authored my bill in response to this drastic surge,” said Limmer. “Currently, 34 states have already defined organized retail crime, and by putting this definition into Minnesota law, we will have a modernized tool to address the changing ways organized retail crimes are carried out.”

After clearing the Senate Civil Law and Data Practices Policy Committee, it will advance to the Senate Finance Committee. The full Senate must consent to the legislation, in addition to the House of Representatives and Governor Tim Walz, in order for the provision to become law.

“This bill will have an important impact on distinguishing between common petty shoplifting and organized crime,” said Limmer. “My hope is that this bill will provide prosecutors and law enforcement an updated tool to help address the theft going on at retailers of all sizes across Minnesota.”

The legislation has been endorsed by the Minnesota Retailers Association and the Minnesota Organized Retail Crime Association.

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Cooper Moran is a reporter for The Minnesota Sun and The Star News Network. Email tips to [email protected]