Stephens Bill to Combat Organized Retail Theft Passes House
12/21/2011
HARRISBURG—Legislation introduced by Rep. Todd Stephens (R-Montgomery) to deter organized retail theft rings from coming into Pennsylvania has passed the House.

House Bill 1000 brings Pennsylvania into line with the penalties in surrounding states by making it a felony of the third degree if the value of the item or items stolen is $1,000 or more. Currently, an offense crosses the line from a misdemeanor to a felony when the value of the items stolen exceeds $2,000.

Under existing law, a thief who absconds with $1,999 worth of items from a Pennsylvania retail establishment is charged with a first-degree misdemeanor, even if he or she has a prior conviction.

Citing the recent Montgomery County arrest of a New Jersey man who created fake UPC labels to change the price of items at stores in 11 Pennsylvania Counties and re-sold the items on eBay for over $172,000, Stephens said: “Pennsylvania has become a magnet for organizations running retail theft rings because our penalties are so weak, especially when compared with the penalties in neighboring states.”

Theft of an item with a value over $1,000 is a felony in: Maryland, New York, New Jersey, District of Columbia, and Ohio.

Montgomery County is one of the biggest contributors to the state's sales tax coffers - ranking third overall behind Allegheny and Philadelphia. According to the National Retailers Federation, retail theft is on the rise and cost Pennsylvania $60 million in lost sales tax revenue in 2010.

“The lost tax revenue from these organized retail thieves is staggering and hurts all Pennsylvanians,” Stephens said.

The bill now moves to the Senate.

State Representative Todd Stephens
151st District, Pennsylvania House of Representatives
Contact:
David Foster
215-744-2600
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