by Esther Alcaraz
ALTO Staff Attorney Miami, and former prosecutor for the Miami Dade Attorney’s Office
A new bill that went into effect October 1, 2022 is changing the way retail thefts are prosecuted in Florida. Rather than reporting the value of merchandise stolen in order to prosecute a repeat offender, this bill allows retailers and law enforcement to report on the number of items stolen.
What does this mean?
This will change the way repeat offenders are prosecuted and elevate many of these crimes from misdemeanors to felonies. By providing a new opportunity to charge repeat offenders, this bill helps law enforcement, prosecutors and retailers connect the dots between crimes and dismantle organized retail theft rings. In the long run, this approach is expected to reduce retail theft and community crime.
Why is it important for retailers?
This bill highlights the importance of incident reporting and puts a spotlight on the way retailers and law enforcement gather data and report thefts. Regardless of your state laws, reporting on every instance of retail theft is important, even for low-value items.
Training your staff to do complete, timely, and accurate incident reports is step one. Look at how your staff is using your existing reporting technology and train on the specific details needed in incident reports, such as giving an accurate description of the offender and detailing the type of product lost and how it was stolen. A complete incident report is one that includes a police report number; communicating with law enforcement should also be part of staff training.
Help your staff also understand the impact that the actionable data your store produces has on retail loss prevention efforts, and explain the role they play in helping create a safer store and safer community.
Alliances have the power to support retailers
In Florida, retail task forces and alliances like the one ALTO is trying to get the word out to local stores and law enforcement so they are aware of how they should be reporting theft. But if your store employees and local law enforcement officers are properly trained, this should not be anything new to you or your processes.
If you need extra support for your in-store team, ALTO bridges gaps between retailers, law enforcement, and prosecutors, helps to share resources, and promotes communication to create safer communities.
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