Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Walgreens Supports, But ebay Opposes Organized Crime Measures Before Congress

Companies including Walgreen Co. asked a U.S. House Committee on Monday to crack down on organized retail crime, but online retailers such as eBay Inc. said some of the measures proposed would unfairly hurt their business.

Unlike shoplifting, thieves in organized retail crime steal larger quantities of goods _ from baby formula to over-the-counter drugs _ to resell as part of larger crime rings. The FBI estimates organized retail theft costs retailers over $30 billion each year.

The hearing by the House Committee on the Judiciary was held to consider issues related to organized retail crime, such as the shift from items being resold at flea markets and pawn shops to them being auctioned the Internet.

Two bills in the House and one in the Senate that would address various thresholds and penalties for organized crime are under consideration.

Traditional retailers say the current laws aren't adequate to effectively track and prosecute large-scale cases. Walgreen said some criminals get a "slap on the wrist" due to lagging investigative resources and an unwillingness by authorities to take complicated cases. But online retailers, such as eBay, said they would be unfairly targeted in the proposed legislation and say they already work diligently to help track down criminals.

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