Retail Trade Groups Welcome ORC Legislation

The Food Marketing Institute, the National Retail Federation, Washington, and other retail trade groups praised three separate pieces of organized retail crime legislation introduced yesterday in the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate.

ARLINGTON, Va. β€” The Food Marketing Institute here, the National Retail Federation, Washington, and other retail trade groups praised three separate pieces of organized retail crime legislation introduced yesterday in the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate.

The bills were the Combating Organized Retail Crime Act of 2009, sponsored by Senate Majority Whip Richard J. Durbin, D-Ill.; the Organized Retail Crime Act of 2009, sponsored by Rep. Brad Ellsworth, D-Ind.; and the E-Fencing Enforcement Act of 2009, sponsored by Rep. Bobby Scott, D-Va., chairman of the House Judiciary Committee Crime, Terrorism and Homeland Security Subcommittee.

The measures are similar to legislation first introduced last summer. While the bills offer different approaches to combating organized retail crime, taken together they would define ORC as a federal crime for the first time, amend federal sentencing guidelines for criminals convicted of ORC, require operators of online auction sites to cooperate with retailers and law enforcement officials in their ORC investigations, and, in some cases, hold auction sites responsible for the sale of stolen merchandise that could have been prevented.

β€œThe introduction of three bills on the same day by prominent lawmakers shows that Congress is serious about legislating a solution to these costly crimes that threatens the safety of Americans,” said FMI President and Chief Executive Officer Leslie G. Sarasin, in a statement.

However, a number of Internet groups are vigorously opposing ORC legislation targeting online commerce.

"These bills, while ostensibly aimed at organized retail crime, are really about decimating the competition that big retailers face from small businesses that use the Internet to level the playing field,” said Steve DelBianco, executive director of NetChoice, a coalition of trade associations, eCommerce businesses, and online consumers that includes eBay and The Wine Institute.

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