A bill creating an Organized Retail Theft Task Force at the Federal Bureau of Investigation and creating a private-sector, web-based computer database on retail theft was signed into law last week by President Bush. Organized retail theft costs retailers as much as $5 billion a year.
Under the new law, the FBI will work closely with the retail community on creating a national database or clearinghouse to identify where organized retail crimes are being committed. The information would help the FBI identify hot spots of organized retail crime activity so it could deploy agents and resources more effectively.
The database is similar to the National Retail Federation’s Retail Loss Prevention Intelligence Network, which the NRF developed in close consultation with the FBI, an NRF spokesman says. However, the FBI has not announced whether the task force will be using RLPIN, which the NRF launched in November, he says.
RLPIN is a web-accessible secure database that allows participating retailers to share information about incidents ranging from burglaries to organized theft. It is designed to identify trends by geographic area or type of incident.
The database is available to retailers, regardless of NRF member status, for $1,200 per year plus a one-time per user set-up fee of $200.
The new law also authorizes $5 million annually for law enforcement to participate in the database and to train federal law enforcement agents to investigate and prosecute retail theft.