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STATE HOUSEOrganized theft, or organized shoplifting, is when someone steals and resells the item to a pawn shop, on Craigslist, Facebook Marketplace or on the street. In Indiana, crooks are able to stay out of jail when they shoplift, if what they steal is worth under $750. That may soon change.

Currently, theft below $750 is classified as a Class A misdemeanor, and theft between $750 and $50,000 is a Level 6 felony, said a news release from state Rep. Sharon Negele (R-Attica). 

Under Negele’s legislation, a prosecutor may charge a person who makes an enterprise of selling stolen retail property on the internet with a Level 6 felony, even if the value of the stolen property is less than $750. Similarly, the punishment for stolen items with a value greater than $750 would be raised to a Level 5 felony. 

“Theft is a serious problem for retailers across the country,” said Negele. “Under current Indiana law, organized theft rings are able to escape punishment by keeping the volume of stolen goods below $750, which is the felony level. By enhancing penalties, we can ensure criminals receive the punishment they deserve and better deter organized theft going forward.” 

Negele said every neighboring state has a law addressing organized retail theft. As a result, she said criminals target Indiana, leaving Hoosier retailers vulnerable. 

“Due to higher rates of organized theft, some retailers have been forced to raise prices,” she said. “This punishes law-abiding Hoosiers. My legislation would crack down on the appropriate people without unintentionally penalizing the average consumer.” 

House Bill 1323 now moves to the Senate for consideration.

PHOTO: Thinkstock/Evgen Prozhyrko