Air Date

September 14, 2023

Featured Guest

Young Kim
U.S. Representative, U.S. House of Representatives


Evan H. Jenkins
Former Senior Vice President, Government Affairs, U.S. Chamber of Commerce


Businesses across the United States are experiencing rising rates of organized retail crime, posing significant economic challenges for retail businesses and the communities surrounding them. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce continues to advocate for solutions to combat crime and retail theft, including a call to swift action for policymakers. In conversation with Evan H. Jenkins, Senior Vice President of Government Affairs at the U.S. Chamber, U.S. Representative Young Kim (CA-40) discussed the threat of organized retail crime, the Congressional legislation aimed at stopping it, and steps small businesses can take to fight back.

Organized Retail Crime Is a Growing Problem Across the Country

Since the pandemic, small businesses across the country have fallen victim to increased organized retail crime — most frequently, “smash-and-grab,” whereby criminals break a window and steal goods quickly before exiting the store. These crimes wreak financial havoc on business owners and employees and spread fear throughout local communities.

“This [is a] really challenging, but critically important issue that affects small businesses of every size,” said Jenkins. “It's about safety, security – this is so fundamental to the quality of life in communities across our country.”

Kim emphasized that organized retail crime impacts businesses beyond the loss of goods.

“The employers are worried about their businesses having to… adjust and adapt to the ongoing crimes [and] they also have to worry about the safety of their customers that are coming in,” she noted.

Policymakers Have the Power to Ensure Their Constituents Feel Safe

Policymakers can help constituents and local businesses in their communities feel safe by developing legislation that supports the challenges they face. Kim regularly meets with business owners in her district — and at these meetings, she heard overwhelming responses about the ongoing challenges small business owners face on a daily basis.

“The small businesses were having enough of a hard time during the pandemic, and they were exacerbated with high inflation, supply chain disruptions, and labor shortages,” she shared.

The significant uptick in organized retail crimes aggravated these existing problems and raised public safety concerns.

“It was really personal stories that I heard from small businesses,” Kim said. “They always talk about this economic concern, but they also bring up public safety issues… we have a lot of Asian American small business owners who are also expressing their concern because they also saw the rise of the hate crimes against Asian Americans, especially during the pandemic.”

The Improving Federal Investigations of Organized Retail Crime Act Aims to Hold Criminals Accountable

In response to the concerns her constituents were expressing, Kim introduced a piece of legislation in Congress last year: HR 3-16, or the Improving Federal Investigations of Organized Retail Crime Act. The legislation outlines a cohesive strategy whereby the Justice Department, Homeland Security, and the U.S. Postal Service all work together to combat organized retail crimes.

“The legislation will… improve coordination and information sharing among the federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies… to address organized retail crime and hold those criminal networks accountable. It will also help to increase the collaboration with retailers, organized retail crime associations and state-run retail crime force,” Kim explained. “[Altogether,] it will help the local authorities in compiling evidence for the prosecution of organized retail crime.”

Because smash-and-grab crime has been on the rise affecting small businesses nationwide, Kim had bipartisan support and positive feedback for this bill.

The Small Business Community Can Help Push Back in the Fight Against Organized Retail Crime

Kim shared some tips for business owners to fight back against retail crime, namely by collaborating and information-sharing with other businesses and law enforcement.

“As a business community… invite [other chambers of commerce] to meet with members and host roundtable discussions or seminars,” Kim suggested. “Invite the businesses to share their stories, to listen to their struggles on the ground during and after [smash-and-grab] incidents.”

Information sharing and increased reporting of incidents can help local law enforcement and congressional offices identify patterns within their districts to stop crime ultimately.

Kim explained, “[Information sharing] will assist state and local authorities in compiling evidence so that the prosecutor teams can really have good, solid evidence and prosecute those organized retail crimes.”