|June 26, 2013
Contact: Whitney Ray
Phone: (850) 245-0150
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. –Attorney General Pam Bondi today joined Governor Scott as he signed House Bill 1173, the organized retail theft bill. This legislation, sponsored by Senator Kelli Stargel and Representative Ross Spano, strengthens Florida’s law by enhancing penalties for those who commit organized retail theft. The National Retail Federation estimates retailers lose more than $30 billion per year to retail theft, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation considers retail theft a “gateway crime” committed by major crime rings that use the proceeds to fund other illegal activity. In a typical retail theft scheme, criminals steal thousands of dollars worth of products over a period of time and often sell them at flea markets or online.
“Organized retail theft ultimately results in consumers paying the price for this illegal activity,” stated Attorney General Pam Bondi. “I applaud Governor Scott for signing this bill, and I thank Senator Kelli Stargel and Representative Ross Spano for their sponsorship of this important legislation that holds criminals accountable for organized retail theft.”
The new legislation enhances the penalties for a violation of Florida Statute 817.034(4)(a) by increasing the sentencing scoring guidelines for an organized retail theft offense that exceeds $50,000. The enhanced penalties align the sentencing of organized retail theft charges with first degree grand theft. As a result, a person convicted of retail theft at $50,000 or more would face a baseline sentence of 21 months in prison.
Additionally, the legislation adds language to the Florida Communications Fraud Act which makes it clear that these types of organized schemes all have a five-year statute of limitations, similar to the five-year statute of limitations placed on other theft charges.