With the holiday shopping season in full swing, the California Highway Patrol (CHP) is collaborating with local law enforcement agencies to aggressively investigate organized retail crimes, make arrests, and recover stolen merchandise from brick-and-mortar and online retail stores throughout the state.
The CHP’s Organized Retail Crime Task Force (ORCTF) assists local law enforcement agencies and pursues leads, identifies suspects, and supports criminal investigations. Immediately following the high-profile burglaries in the Bay Area this weekend, the CHP contacted the local agencies investigating the crimes and offered assistance. As a result, effective immediately, the CHP is increasing patrols on the freeway corridors adjacent to major shopping centers.
Since its creation in 2019, the CHP’s ORCTF, in conjunction with local law enforcement agencies, has participated in 773 investigations, made 240 arrests, and assisted in the recovery of more than $18.9 million in merchandise.
“The CHP remains steadfast in its efforts to help reduce organized retail theft,” CHP Commissioner Amanda Ray said. “We are collaborating with local law enforcement and district attorneys to apprehend and prosecute the criminals involved in this nefarious activity.”
As California’s state law enforcement agency, the CHP can assist local authorities with complex investigations that extend beyond their jurisdictions or as requested. The ORCTF provides local law enforcement with logistical support and resources, including personnel and equipment. Every ORCTF team throughout the state shares information between law enforcement agencies and California’s retailers, and has committed CHP detectives to investigate these crimes and enhance the safety of the public as they shop throughout California.
According to the National Retail Federation, organized retail theft accounts for an estimated $30 billion in economic loss each year nationwide. Organized retail theft typically involves a criminal enterprise with multiple theft rings at numerous retail stores and uses a fencing operation to sell the stolen goods. Retailers carry losses from theft on several levels and ultimately the cost is passed on to consumers through price inflation to offset the economic loss.
If you observe organized theft:
- Do not attempt to intervene.
- Note what the people involved look like.
- If possible, obtain a license plate and vehicle description.
- Be cautious – multiple suspects can be involved in these thefts.
- Report all suspicious activity to the store manager or police when safe to do so.
- Submit pictures or video of the suspects or criminal activity to law enforcement, if you can do so safely.
- Report organized retail theft incidents to CHP online at: https://www.chp.ca.gov/notify-chp/organized-retail-theft-program.
The ORCTF’s efforts are consistent with the CHP’s mission to provide the highest level of Safety, Service, and Security to the people of California and are in line with the CHP strategic goal to protect life and property.