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Major U.S. Retailers Urge Congress to Help Amid Smash-and-Grab Crime Surge

The group asked Congress to pass legislation that would make it difficult for perpetrators to resell stolen merchandise online. 

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The CEOs of Best Buy, CVS, Target, Home Depot, Nordstrom and other major U.S. retail chains penned a letter to Congress on Thursday, calling for action in response to the uptick in organized theft across the country. The group of retail executives asked Congress to pass legislation that would make it difficult for perpetrators to resell stolen merchandise online. 

Large-scale theft operations have gained momentum this year, The Washington Post reports, and were particularly damaging in late November, when stores were well-stocked with holiday inventory. On Black Friday, eight perpetrators stormed a Home Depot in Lakewood, Calif. and took off with $400 worth of merchandise; another group raided a Bottega Veneta boutique in Los Angeles; and approximately 30 people robbed a Best Buy in Minneapolis.

Related: The Do's and Don'ts for Opening and Operating a Successful Retail Store

Many of the stolen goods are resold online. "This trend has made retail businesses a target for increasing theft, hurt legitimate businesses who are forced to compete against unscrupulous sellers, and has greatly increased consumer exposure to unsafe and dangerous counterfeit products," said the letter, sent by the Retail Industry Leaders Association (RILA). 

The retail leaders called on Congress to pass a bill that would help consumers identify exactly who's selling them the merchandise.

Related: 3 Retail Stocks for the Q4 Shopping List

The 2020 National Retail Survey determined shrinkage (loss of inventory that can be attributed to theft, among other things) was at an all-time high. It accounted for nearly 2% of a retailer's bottom line that year and cost the industry $61.7 billion. 

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