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Wash. AG announces retail crime task force

Staff Report | June 23, 2022 4:01 PM

OLYMPIA — Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson announced the creation of a statewide Organized Retail Crime theft Task Force Thursday to improve collaboration and cooperation among law enforcement agencies to address organized retail theft responsible for an estimated $2.7 billion in losses statewide in 2021.

“Coordination is key to combating this growing, and sometimes dangerous problem,” Ferguson said in the press release. “These organized crimes cross jurisdictions and cause significant economic harm. I’m committed to working together with law enforcement and retail partners to help combat this significant and growing problem.”

The task force is the first of its kind in Washington, according to a press release from the attorney general’s office, but nine other states have created similar task forces to deal with organized retail crime. According to federal crime statistics cited in the press release, organized retail crime rose 151% in 2020 when compared with 2019, and resulted in losses of $70 billion to retailers nationwide.

Organized retail crime is the stealing of goods not for personal use but to resell, and is often done by gangs or groups online, sometimes with threats of violence to store employees.

The task force is set to hold its first meeting on Thursday, July 7, with meetings set once a quarter for at least a year, according to the release.

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