RILA Panel Discussion Takes On Added Significance in the Wake of New CEC Lawsuit

Editor’s Note: The following missive is a response from the National Association of Shoplifting Prevention (NASP) to the class action lawsuit filed against a number of major retailers on April 9, which asserts that the retailers participated in a racketeering scheme with Utah-based Corrective Education Company (CEC).

We write in response to the suit filed against CEC and its participating retailers yesterday that seizes on the California Superior Court’s earlier finding of extortion based on California state law.

Without regard to or comment on the guilt or innocence of any party, the National Association for Shoplifting Prevention (NASP) views this lawsuit as yet another challenge to retailers’ efforts to address a community-wide burden that they are, by and large, left to shoulder on their own in jurisdictions around the country and especially in California post-Proposition 47.

Moreover, as an organization whose mission and focus is offender accountability and education, NASP is particularly troubled to note that, once again, this suit discounts (and thus excuses) any role or responsibility on the part of the alleged offenders. The suit misleadingly refers to alleged offenders as “extortion targets” in another example of the role reversal that paints retailers as villains rather than victims.

It is essential as an industry, that we continually bring the focus back to the community-wide value of retail/criminal justice collaboration to address the proliferation of retail theft holistically and cooperatively. The lack of resources available to address shoplifting and retail theft in the criminal justice system, coupled with the continually increasing felony thresholds around the country, have resulted in an alarming de facto decriminalization of shoplifting. This not only encourages offenders to continue to shoplift but also empowers them to move on to greater and often more violent levels of retail theft.

The nature of this suit brings into specific relief the value of the upcoming panel discussion and subsequent breakout session at the RILA Asset Protection Conference in Orlando on Tuesday morning, May 1. Beginning with a General Session at 9:30 followed by a 10:45 breakout, retail, criminal justice, academic, and community experts will discuss retail asset protection challenges and share their legal opinions, expertise and experience in using, challenging and defending programs that seek to use education to address shoplifter recidivism while preserving police and public resources for communities.

Panelists will examine the value of non-traditional and civil alternatives to holistically address retail crime inflation and begin to fill the gaps left by fixed and shrinking public resources. The ultimate goal is to identify model program policies and practices that, when carefully and collaboratively vetted and executed, will meet the needs of all parties involved—from offenders to retailers to criminal justice and community.

Panelists:
Paul Jaeckle, vice president loss prevention, Meijer
Honorable David Larson, presiding judge, Federal Way Municipal Court
Attorney General Curtis Hill, State of Indiana
Chief Deputy Attorney General Aaron Negangard, State of Indiana
Kevin Kolbye, assistant police chief, Arlington Police Department
John Rappaport, assistant professor of law, University of Chicago
George Kelemen, president and chief executive officer, Texas State Retail Association

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