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Online markets sign agreement with Bontal to combat organized retail crime

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(The Center Square) – For every $1 billion in sales, US retailers lose about $700,000 to organized retail theft. Organized retail crime involves large-scale theft of goods from physical locations that are put up for sale on online marketplaces. To combat this growing trend California Attorney General Rob Bonta, retailers, and online markets have signed an agreement promoting information-sharing and loss of goods detection with an aim to prosecute offenders.

“eBay is committed to providing a secure online shopping experience to millions of people globally and has been very serious about battling stolen goods,” said Zhi Zhou, Chief Risk Officer, eBay. “We have zero tolerance for criminal activity on our platform and are proud to support Attorney General Bonta and other online marketplaces in this effort to curtail organized retail theft and support criminal prosecutions against those who try to use our platform to sell stolen goods. This will compliment eBay’s Partnering with Retailers Offensively Against Crime and Theft (PROACT) program, a collaboration with Retail Loss Prevention departments in North America seeking assistance with investigations related to Organized Retail Crime.”

The agreement outlines requirements for both retailers and online marketplaces. Retailers would be required to file police reports on all organized retail crime incidents; retain video evidence; communicate with marketplaces on all intelligence gathered; and collaborate in law enforcement training to identify, investigate and resolve crimes.

Marketplaces would be required to maintain retail crime staff to report on their platforms; maintain a dedicated webpage for law enforcement requests and other legal processes; maintain policies and systems to monitor, detect and prevent organized retail crime; maintain external policies defining marketplace rules and the consequences of violations; maintain internal written policies that guide collaboration in order to collectively combat retail crime; communicate with Retailers to stay updated on trends; and maintain internal policies relating to referring identified retail crime to the appropriate law enforcement agency.

“Organized Retail Crime is a prevalent issue for all retailers, online and physical, and there is no one-size-fits-all solution,” said Anthony Williams, Director of California Public Policy, Amazon. “For us, customer trust is central to everything we do. To that end, we strongly support legislative efforts and collaborative partnerships, like Attorney General Bonta’s Statement of Principles, to stop bad actors from harming consumers.”

The California legislature passed in 2022, two bills to address organized retail crime. Senate Bill 301 outlines requirements for marketplaces to collect and store information related to third party high-volume sellers consistent with California privacy laws, and requires online marketplaces to suspect future sales activities of high-volume third-party sellers who are not in compliance with these reporting requirements.

Assembly Bill 1700 creates an online reporting tool administered by the attorney general’s Office that provides the public with an avenue for reporting organized retail theft.

“The Home Depot applauds Attorney General Bonta for committing to this agreement and the passage of SB 301 and AB 1700, legislation that will fight organized retail crime and help stop dangerous criminals from stealing from our stores,” said Scott Glenn, Vice President of Asset Protection, The Home Depot.

Bonta said, “Organized retail crime costs businesses, retailers, and consumers — and puts the public at risk. This new partnership signals a robust and genuine commitment shared by the retail marketplace and law enforcement to crack down on these crimes. Today’s announcement demonstrates California’s resilience and tenacity in tackling these challenges within our state. Whether it is law enforcement, online marketplaces, or retailers — we will not tolerate organized retail crime in our state.

“The fact is, we are stronger when we work together as a united front,” said Attorney General Rob Bonta.

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