Shoplifting rings on the rise

Sep 27, 2012

Organized gangs that steal from retail stores in Michigan are not only driving up prices, they're putting the public at risk. 

The gangs take everything from electronics to baby formula. Then they sell the items at online auction sites or flea markets  for pennies on the dollar.

Bill Hallan is with the Michigan Retailers Association.  He says the thieves are getting bolder, sometimes running out an emergency fire door with a shopping cart full of merchandise.
"Since they're professional criminals, they will evade capture at all cost," Hallan says. "So they become violent, which posts a threat to consumers in the stores, as well as employees."

Hallan says there are also health concerns associated with stolen baby formula.

"It's taken out of a controlled environment, and could be subjected to extreme temperatures, expiration or spoilage, so it poses a problem for a consumer that doesn't know they're purchasing a stolen product," he says.

Hallan says the average household pays an extra $400 a year to make up for the losses retailers incur because of theft.

A bill making its way through the Michigan House would make organized retail theft a felony  with tougher punishments than those for shoplifting.