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Florida AG announces creation of task force and database to curb organized retail theft

florida attorney general ashley moody.jpg
Posted at 4:28 PM, Dec 02, 2021
and last updated 2021-12-02 17:23:52-05

Florida's Attorney General wants to make sure Florida retailers aren't dealing with smash and grab thefts that will affect their bottom line. AG Ashley Moody announced the creation of FORCE — Florida Organized Retail Crime Exchange.

"While many other states have gone lenient on property crimes, Florida has not," Moody said.

She referenced the viral videos showing several people running into stores and grabbing all the merchandise off the shelves.

"Major cities outside of our state are seeing brazen criminals, rush stores, stealing large amounts of merchandise and rush out in an organized way," Moody said.

AG Moody said statewide, prosecutors have tried nearly 60 cases with 250 suspects accused of participating in organized retail theft. Now, the state is trying to get ahead of what seems like a worsening trend.

"As organized crime has increased, as organized crime rings have become more complex and sophisticated, so will we," she said.

At Thursday's press conference, AG Moody announced their solution to these types of crime. FORCE will create a task force and a statewide database that will keep a log of these types of large-scale operations. Law enforcement and retailers will have access to it.

Sheriff Grady Judd reinforced the fact that law enforcement isn't getting tough on petty theft.

"We're putting criminals in jail because if they're not stealing at this store, they'll steal at this store. If they're not stealing at this county, they'll steal here," Sheriff Judd said.

He referenced crimes like the bust his deputies made. A retail theft ring believed to be operating since 2014, hit Wal-Marts in nearly 40 Florida counties and 13 states. Sheriff Judd warned criminals that they can't escape the law in his jurisdiction.

"You'll spend Christmas, not with Santa Claus, but with Santa Judd at the county jail," he said. "That's a guarantee."

According to the National Retail Federation, more than 70% of retailers nationwide reported an uptick in crime. It costs businesses more than $30 billion a year.