House to examine organized retail theft plaguing U.S. cities amid the holidays

The rise of organized retail crime will be front and center at a Tuesday congressional hearing amid the end-of-year holiday shopping boom. 

The House Homeland Security Committee’s Subcommittee on Counterterrorism, Law Enforcement, and Intelligence is holding a hearing titled “From Festive Cheer to Retail Fear: Addressing Organized Retail Crime.” 

Among the witnesses expected to testify are representatives from Home Depot and the National Retail Federation, according to a witness list previewed by Fox News Digital. 

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This image shows a ransacked liquor store in Philadelphia on Sept. 27, 2023. Police say groups of teenagers swarmed into stores across the city, stuffed bags with merchandise and fled in an apparently coordinated effort. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

On the government side, lawmakers will hear from Homeland Security officials in the Secret Service as well as Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

Subcommittee Chair August Pfluger, R-Texas, blamed “soft-on-crime policies” for the problematic trend in a statement announcing the hearing.

“By putting criminals over communities, families, and small business owners, hardworking Americans across the country are being forced to pay the financial and emotional costs of these failed policies,” Pfluger said.

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Rep. August Pfluger, R-Texas, is leading a hearing on organized retail theft. (Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call Inc. via Getty Images)

“Amid an unprecedented spike in retail crime, reports also suggest many professional shoplifters or boosters are part of a much larger organization of criminals — including transnational criminal organizations (TCOs) that are taking advantage of our open borders,” he added.

Rep. Seth Magaziner, D-R.I., the top Democrat on the panel, said in a statement, “Organized retail crime endangers small businesses, workers, and consumers.”

It comes as big cities like Washington, D.C., and New York City deal with rising retail theft issues.

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Tide on store shelves

Shelves with specific products that tend to be shoplifted are stocked with the bare minimum as Giant Foods grocery is making some changes to their stores to address organized retail crime in Washington, D.C. (Bill O’Leary/Washington Post via Getty Images)

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Big chain stores in those cities like CVS and others have been forced to lock up merchandise behind plastic barriers to keep them from being stolen off the shelves.

A recent survey by the National Retail Federation found that 70% of retailers believe organized retail theft has become a more prevalent issue in recent years.

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