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. Merchandise stolen from retailers, is often re-sold in online marketplaces.

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.

See stolen goods online? Report them!

We all have a role in combating organized retail theft - if you see goods for sale online that you suspect are stolen, file a report using DOJ's online reporting portal. In accordance with AB 1700, DOJ's reporting portal allows Californians to report suspected stolen goods found on online marketplaces. Reports - which can be made anonymous - are shared with applicable local law enforcement agencies and regional property crimes task forces.

Additionally, the underlying facts of any report may be shared with the relevant marketplace or retailer, if DOJ determines that doing so will further DOJ’s purpose to detect and deter these crimes.

File a Report Now

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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