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Lawmakers Seek Solution to Organized Retail Theft

January 21st, 2022 by Mike Vasilinda

High end smash and grab robberies are plaguing retailers across the county and here in Florida where a high end handbag retailer in Palm Beach lost a million and half dollars in merchandise in December alone. As Mike Vasilinda tells us, state lawmakers may soon require online merchants to know more about who is selling on their platforms.

The Florida Retail Federation says organized retail theft is skyrocketing in Florida.  

“Sixty nine percent increase across the board, and its not just big box retailers.  It’s all retail.And these are organized entities. This is not shoplifting” says CEO Scott Shalley.

Senate Bill 944 would require Ebay and other middle men between remote sellers and buyers to verify identify and contact information for anyone who sells more than twenty thousand dollars a year on a platform. Senator Dennis Baxley is sponsoring the bill.

“Registration of the marketplaces on line will allow us to detect stolen merchandise much quicker” Baxley told us.

Walgreens and Home Depot voiced support. Ebay lobbyist Jim Daughton  asked lawmakers to wait for a federal solution.

“Obviously we prefer the Federal bill to pass” said Daughton.

But a Senate Committee decided the state couldn’t wait for something that might not happen at all.

“So, SB 944 is reported favorably” announced Committee Chair Ed Hooper

Following the vote, Baxley told us “Florida is leading the way. We’re saying we’re not going to tolerate that. We’re going to interrupt the sales process.”

Think of this online registry as a traditional pawn shop that collects information about  who is selling what and often recovers stolen property. 

The Florida Retail Federation believes the registry will get results.

“This is about individuals who are selling high volume, high volume goods that are still in the box brand new. If you get two blends for your wedding gift and you go to sell them online, that certainly makes sense. If you get twenty five in a year, that’s a little suspicious. So we’d like to be able to track those individuals” says Shalley.

Online facilitators who don’t follow the law could face fines of up to ten thousand dollars.

The law is set to take effect in July. But Ebay says they’d like more time if it passes.


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