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Tags: fbi | foreign | organized | retail | theft | rings

Feds: Theft Rings Use Noncitizens to Boost US Stores

By    |   Tuesday, 12 December 2023 09:28 PM EST

Major organized retail theft rings in Europe and South America are behind multiple operations that exploit tourist visas to send in noncitizens to ravage American retail stores, with losses that totaled $112 billion in 2022.

That's way up from the $94 billion in losses reported in 2021, federal investigators said in a briefing for House lawmakers on Tuesday, titled "From Festive Cheer to Retail Fear: Addressing Organized Retail Crime."

FBI Deputy Assistant Director Jose Perez said its Criminal Investigative Division is investigating, among other groups, theft groups out of Chile and other South American countries that exploit "tourist visas to travel in and out of the United States to facilitate theft and transport of stolen goods internationally."

The National Retail Federation (NRF) documented an organized theft group out of Romania using more than 70 "previously deported individuals" who have racked up nearly $500,000 in losses. This group, said Michael Krol, special agent in charge of Homeland Security investigations, employs "boosting skirts" that are "specifically designed for theft" because of pouches sewn into them.

The NRF also documented a group of three criminals going up and down the I-95 corridor boosting ink cartridges, with one individual from that outfit "recorded re-entering Mexico at the border."

The NRF is asking Congress to pass H.R. 895, the Combating Organized Retail Crime Act, "which would expand federal enforcement of criminal offenses related to organized retail crime and establish an Organized Retail Crime Coordination Center within the Department of Homeland Security," said San Diego County District Attorney Summer Stephan, adding it would be a "game-changer."

Perez outlined why.

"One of the challenges with investigating Organized Retail Theft is that most of these crimes appear initially as state offenses, such as shoplifting, that are not ordinarily reported to the FBI and may not have clear connection to a transnational criminal organization," Perez said.

Mark Swanson

Mark Swanson, a Newsmax writer and editor, has nearly three decades of experience covering news, culture and politics.

© 2024 Newsmax. All rights reserved.


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Major organized retail theft rings in Europe and South America are behind multiple operations that exploit tourist visas to send in noncitizens to ravage American retail stores, with losses that totaled $112 billion in 2022.
fbi, foreign, organized, retail, theft, rings
308
2023-28-12
Tuesday, 12 December 2023 09:28 PM
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