Legislation to cut down on organized retail theft crime passed the Senate and Assembly, and has been sent to Governor Andrew M. Cuomo for signing into law. Sponsored by Sen. Michael Venditto (R.-C.-I., Nassau) and Assemblyman Michael J. Cusick (D.-I.-C., Richmond), the bill will grant jurisdiction in a neighboring county if the crime pattern has occurred within that county.

According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, organized retail theft crime costs retailers in the U.S. around $50 billion each year. For every stolen item, the state loses on sales tax revenue, which can add up to millions.

“Organized retail theft crime comprises a wide spectrum of high volume and highly organized theft rings that cost New York retailers specifically hundreds of millions of dollars annually, and, more importantly, compromise the health, safety and welfare of unsuspecting New York consumers,” said Venditto.

The legislation allows crimes falling under the definition of organized retail theft to be prosecuted in any county that is adjoining to another county where at least one of the alleged offenses have occurred; the five counties of New York City are considered contiguous with one another. This will allow one criminal court to preside over all criminal offenses, persons and property forming a pattern of criminal offenses.

“Organized retail theft is the most serious security issue facing many retail merchants, including apparel and accessory retailers, mass merchandisers, do-it-yourself stores, drug stores and supermarkets,” explained Cusick. “It’s a crime that has grown substantially over the past decade, and has continued to grow at an unprecedented level. Retailers are forced to offset these significant costs through higher prices, meaning that honest consumers are forced to endure the impact of organized retail theft and professional shoplifters.”