By David M. Greenwald
Sacramento, CA – One of the first legislative efforts to crack down on retail theft rings, SB 301 authored by Senator Nancy Skinner, passed in the Senate by a 34-0 vote. The bill would help fight organized retail theft by limiting the sale of stolen goods on online.
The bill requires online marketplaces starting July 1, 2023, “to require a high-volume third-party seller on the online marketplace’s platform… to provide to the online marketplace specified information, including certain contact information and a bank account number or, if the seller does not have a bank account, the name of the payee for payments issued by the online marketplace to the seller, as prescribed.”
As the California Retailers Association pointed out in an April 5, 2021, letter issuing “support in concept” for the legislation, “For all its benefits to consumers and businesses, online marketplace platforms have also helped fuel a recent, dramatic rise in organized retail crime (ORC) and counterfeit goods. The anonymity that some platform operators afford their third-party sellers provides an easy “fence” for unscrupulous actors to resell illegitimate goods to unsuspecting consumers.”
They add, “Basic transparency and verification requirements will make it more difficult for these bad actors to use marketplace platforms to deceive California consumers. It will provide law enforcement with an important tool to track and prevent illicit sales and will help protect Main Street California businesses – small and large – from the harmful practices of these businesses that do not create jobs for Californians.”
The bill is also supported by the Prosecutor’s Alliance, an advocacy group that backs progressive reform and progressive prosecutors.
“Tackling large scale retail theft requires us to shut down the resale market for stolen goods,” said Prosecutors Alliance Founder and Executive Director, Cristine Soto DeBerry. “SB 301 is a smart response to recent high-profile thefts, as it undermines a major avenue that organized crime uses to offload stolen merchandise. We commend Senator Skinner for carrying this important initiative and applaud retailers for working collaboratively with lawmakers to move this bill.
“While the legislature is working collaboratively to address the root causes of property crime, tough-on-crime law enforcement officials have misled the public with salacious claims about absent consequences and essential reforms like Proposition 47,” DeBerry added. “We need to address the drivers of theft–whether it’s smash and grabs or auto burglaries–and increasingly that’s organized crime. The ease with which stolen goods may be anonymously sold through online marketplaces is allowing organized retail theft to move millions in stolen goods to unknowing consumers.”