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23 dec. 2021

Much of the public debate over the wave of violent crush-and-kidnapping shoplifting in major cities has focused on preventing shoplifters from entering stores. Yet much of the stolen product is sold online via Facebook market, Amazon, eBay, OfferUp, and other marketplaces.

According to a recent United States of today Talking Tech podcast, consumers’ suggestions to avoid contributing to the problem are to avoid third-party marketplaces, research information on sellers, and go directly to the brand.

On December 9, twenty major distribution CEOs, in collaboration with the Retail Industry Leaders Association (RILA), sent a letter to Congress in support of the INFORM Consumer Law, which would help verify the identity of high-volume third-party sellers to reduce online sales of counterfeit and stolen products.

the Invoice, initially introduced in the Senate in March 2020, would require market sellers to use their real names, verifiable contact details, and tax identification numbers. In October 2021, an update of the INFORM consumer law was introduced in the House of Representatives which reduced some transparency requirements for sellers, including the need for a driver’s license for identity verification and display of seller information alongside product listings.

Retailers who signed the letter to Congress, including Nordstrom, Best Buy, Target, CVS and Foot Locker, have been among the hardest hit by recent crowd thefts.

“There is no simple answer to stopping organized crime from retailing or selling counterfeits – but the key to stemming the tide of these growing problems is transparency,” the letter said. “If a customer purchases a product from a local storefront or e-commerce site and it is broken or faulty, the consumer knows exactly who to contact. There is responsibility. In today’s environment, criminal networks and unscrupulous businesses have exploited a system that protects their anonymity to sell dangerous, stolen or counterfeit products with little legal recourse.

In recent months, Amazon, Etsy, and eBay have all come out in favor of the in-house version of the Inform Consumers Act, Although Amazon critics, politicians and other supporters of the bill said in November that the online sales juggernaut was working behind the scenes to water down the bill, according to Politics.

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: To what extent do e-commerce markets play a role in inciting mass shoplifting? Will legislation requiring increased transparency for third-party sellers in the marketplace help reduce mass theft in retail or are significant action elsewhere needed?


“The ease of selling stolen goods obviously contributes to the incentive to steal them in the first place.”