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Florida lawmakers cracking down on smash and grab robberies

The Florida Retail Federation says organized retail theft is skyrocketing in Florida.
Published: Jan. 21, 2022 at 7:00 PM EST
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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (CNS) - High-end smash and grab robberies are plaguing retailers across the county and here in Florida, where a high-end handbag retailer in Palm Beach lost $1.5 million in merchandise in December alone.

As Capitol News Service reporter Mike Vasilinda tells us, state lawmakers may soon require online merchants to know more about who is selling on their platforms.

The Florida Retail Federation says organized retail theft is skyrocketing in Florida.

“69% increase across the board, and it’s not just big-box retailers. It’s all retail. And these are organized entities. This is not shoplifting,” says Florida Retail CEO Scott Shalley.

Senate Bill 944 would require eBay and other middlemen between remote sellers and buyers to verify identities and contact information for anyone who sells more than $20,000 a year on a platform. Senator Dennis Baxley is sponsoring the bill.

“Registration of the marketplaces online will allow us to detect stolen merchandise much quicker,” Baxley said.

Walgreens and Home Depot voiced support. eBay lobbyist Jim Daughton asked lawmakers to wait for a federal solution.

“Obviously we prefer the federal bill to pass,” said Daughton.

But a Senate committee decided the state couldn’t wait for something that might not happen at all.

“So, SB 944 is reported favorably,” announced Committee Chair Ed Hooper

Following the vote, Baxley told Capitol News Service, “Florida is leading the way. We’re saying we’re not going to tolerate that. We’re going to interrupt the sales process.”

Think of this online registry as a traditional pawn shop that collects information about who is selling what and often recovers stolen property.

The Florida Retail Federation believes the registry will get results.

“This is about individuals who are selling high volume, high volume goods that are still in the box brand new. If you get two blends for your wedding gift and you go to sell them online, that certainly makes sense. If you get twenty-five in a year, that’s a little suspicious. So we’d like to be able to track those individuals,” says Shalley.

Online facilitators who don’t follow the law could face fines of up to $10,000.

The law is set to take effect in July. But eBay says they’d like more time if it passes.

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