Organized Retail Theft

What is Organized Retail Theft?

Organized Retail Theft is characterized by organized criminal rings that steal property with the intent to sell and distribute, or return stolen merchandise for value. Organized Retail Theft takes many forms—from coordinated thefts of specific goods to orchestrated, brazen attacks on local retailers. In whatever form it takes, these organized crimes are felonies – not petty theft or shoplifting. Organized Retail Theft incidents are often part of sophisticated criminal networks that plan their attacks weeks or months before they are carried out.

In a matter of minutes, hundreds of thousands of dollars in merchandise is stolen while employees and customers face threats or violence or in the worst cases, are actually harmed.

Organized Retail Theft places the safety and wellbeing of California consumers, workers, and businesses at risk. It is a serious crime, and those who commit it that can face severe penalties under the law.

What are we doing to combat retail theft?

Attorney General Bonta and DOJ are committed to holding perpetrators accountable and preventing future retail crimes that endanger the safety of communities in California. The path forward demands action and collaboration. DOJ is collaborating and sharing intelligence with law enforcement partners on the ground, brick-and-mortar retailers, and online marketplaces in order to stop perpetrators from committing further crimes by:

  • Prioritized resources to detect, investigate, and prosecute high-level Organized Retail Theft rings.
  • Offered local law enforcement agencies support with Organized Retail Theft investigations.
  • Encouraged big box retailers to report theft early and to invest in security and surveillance technology.
  • Pushed online retailers to ensure their platforms aren’t being abused and used illegally by criminal rings. Doing so would help stop the demand for stolen goods by shutting down the resale pipeline.

Recent Actions

03/25/2022 Attorney General Bonta Announces Felony Charges Against Members of Statewide Organized Retail Theft Ring

12/14/2021 Attorney General Bonta Hosts Convening on Organized Retail Theft – Brings Together Law Enforcement, Retailers and Online Marketplaces

12/3/2021 Attorney General Bonta Announces Sentencing of Group Involved in Organized Retail Theft


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