Hello and thanks for joining The Kronzek Firm again for our series breakdown of fraud crimes in Michigan. So far we’ve looked at credit card fraud, embezzlement, and tax evasion. In this next segment we’re going to talk about organized retail crime in Michigan – what it means and what the penalties involve.
What is organized retail crime?
When people think of retail crime, they tend to think of shoplifting – people sneaking a few items into their pockets or purse and leaving the store without paying. Organized retail crime is a similar concept, only it happens on a much larger scale and is usually done by an organized group of people. A single shoplifter, working alone, is not an example of organized retail crime.
In most cases, organized retail crime refers to an organized criminal ring with multiple members and one leader. Members steal items that are easy to store and resell, like baby formula, beauty products, medicines, DVDs, and apparel. These items are then stored and/or relocated before being sold again. Because the items were stolen, the profit margin is enormous. Here in Michigan, from time to time these stolen items show up for sale in convenience stores and discount shops. Occasionally they show up in pawn shops.
What is the Organized Retail Crime Act?
Because there is a danger to the public when purchasing items that have been improperly stored or labelled, organized retail crime is considered to be a health hazard. Baby formula and medications that are expired, or have been improperly stored can cause severe illness and even death.
For this reason, in 2012 Governor Snyder signed the Organized Retail Crime Act, making it a five year felony for anyone convicted of organized retail crime. This includes the theft of retail merchandise with the intent of reselling, distributing, or transferring it to another retail merchant or to any other person in exchange for anything of value.
What is the penalty for engaging in organized retail crime?
While shoplifting may be a misdemeanor, depending on the value of the merchandise, that is not the case for someone caught stealing retail items as part of a larger criminal conspiracy. Anyone convicted of participating in organized retail crime will be guilty of a felony punishable by up to five years in prison, a $5,000 fine, or both.
Also, the court usually orders the defendant to pay restitution to any retail merchants who were been victims of that person’s criminal activity. If the owner of the stolen merchandise can’t be identified, the merchandise, along with any sale proceeds, will be subject to forfeiture.
What do I do if I’m arrested for organized retail fraud?
Same thing you should do if you’re arrested for credit card fraud, tax evasion,or any other type of financial crime in Michigan – call us immediately! So don’t admit anything to anyone, don’t agree to discuss your case with the police, and don’t make any decisions about your future until you’ve spoken to an experienced fraud and financial crimes defense attorney. Just shut up and call us.
Join us next time for our discussion on Insurance Fraud. Until then, if you or a loved one have been accused of organized retail crime in Michigan, call The Kronzek Firm immediately at 866 766 5245. Our highly skilled criminal defense attorneys have been defending the people of Michigan against all types of fraud and financial crime accusations for decades, and achieving positive outcomes for many of our clients. We can help you too!