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ST. LOUIS–A bill in the Missouri General Assembly that would attempt to stem the tide of what appear to be organized ‘smash and grab’ burglaries has some of the nation’s biggest brick and mortar retailers and online outlets on opposite sides.

House bill 2108 “Establishes the offense of organized retail theft and establishes provisions relating to disclosures by online marketplaces,” in an effort to stop criminals from stealing the merchandise in person only to turn around and sell the stolen items online.

Walgreens confirmed a report from MissouriNet, which said the company was on track to spend roughly $4.5 million on security at Missouri stores this year after paying $1.5 million three years ago. It supports the bill, along with Walmart.

According to the Missouri Retailers Association, which also supports the bill, “Counterfeit and pirated
goods have been reported to be a $500 billion enterprise while retail theft and shrinkage surpassed $50
billion. Retailers cannot absorb billions of dollars of theft; consumer prices reflect these losses,” the organization said in submitted testimony.

Opponents include Amazon, Etsy and TechNet, a national organization of tech executives with members from companies ranging from Google to Zoom and Zillow.

“It is in each online marketplace’s interest to maintain trust with the consumers using their platforms. The selling of illegal and counterfeit products is a serious issue, and that is exactly why online marketplaces are heavily invested in technologies, personnel, and processes that identify bad actors and remove them from their platforms. These tools are constantly being improved to ensure that they target bad actors on their platforms. Unfortunately, this legislation is both too prescriptive and not future proof, hampering the ability for online marketplaces to innovate as technology and bad actors evolve,” the organization said in submitted testimony.

Tech firms say the issue is better addressed by federal legislation currently making its way through the U.S. House.

The Missouri bill has not been voted out of the House Crime Prevention committee.