Violent crimes may be on the rise, but property crimes remain the most common type of crime across the country. Theft charges are still on the rise as well, and North Carolina officials recently took steps to increase enforcement and penalties for a fast-growing type of theft.
Penalties look to increase for organized retail theft
WRAL reports that members of the North Carolina Senate unanimously voted to increase penalties for individuals leading and involved in organized retail theft rings. Particularly, the bill aims to:
- Officially define organized retail theft as a crime
- Issue felony charges for this crime
- Add more jail time and increase the financial and criminal penalties
Many times, organized retail theft crimes involve “smash-and-grabs,” where individuals smash windows or display cases and seize store property. It also often involves a large group of individuals participating in a mass robbery at once.
Videos on social media, security camera footage and national newscasts called attention to organized retail theft in the past few years. This bill seems to be in response to that increased attention.
Theft charges often depend on certain factors
Individuals arrested for involvement with a retail theft ring would still face criminal charges today, even before this bill came into play. The penalties they faced often depended on factors such as:
- The value of the items stolen
- The use of a weapon
- The organization of the crime
- Whether they were the leader of such an organization
These factors are still in effect under this new bill, should it become state law. The penalties have just increased sharply if the charges relate to organized retail theft.
Individuals in North Carolina need to be aware of these increased risks so that they can protect themselves and their rights.