ARLINGTON, Va. – News about shoplifting meat at supermarkets appears in the media on almost a daily basis. According to the Food Marketing Institute’s Supermarket Security and Loss Prevention 2009 study, meat was the second-most shoplifted category (it was #1 in 2007) behind health and beauty care items. Other product categories most frequently shoplifted (in descending order) include liquor, razor blades, baby formula, “other” category, analgesics, DVDs/videos, cigarettes and batteries.

While some of these acts may be done by wrong-thinking individuals, others may be pulled off by organized crime rings. FMI is applauding the US House of Representatives for passing the Organized Retail Crime Theft Investigation and Prosecution Act of 2010 (H.R. 5932). The bi-partisan legislation was sponsored by Representatives Bobby Scott (D-Va.), John Conyers (D-Mich.), Lamar Smith (R-Texas) and Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.).

“Our customers’ health and safety are at risk when criminals steal over-the-counter medications, diabetic supplies, infant formula and more from stores and then resell these products at flea markets, pawn shops and on internet auction sites,” said Leslie Sarasin, president and chief executive officer of FMI. “Creating a special unit at the Department of Justice to investigate and prosecute members of organized retail crime rings is crucial to combating this very serious criminal problem.”

Supermarkets are routinely victimized by sophisticated theft rings who steal approximately $30 billion worth of merchandise annually from the retail community as a whole. As a result, organized retail theft (ORT) impacts customers’ wallets, too, as they pay higher prices when retailers attempt to recover their losses. In addition, state revenues are also adversely affected by the approximately $1.6 billion in lost sales tax revenue attributed to ORT. The bill also will include assistance to state and local law enforcement agencies in their efforts to fight ORT.