OLYMPIA — Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson said Tuesday he is asking the state legislature for $1.5 million annually to fund the creation of a 10-member organized retail crime unit, according to a press release from the Attorney General's office.
The request follows Ferguson's convening of an organized retail crime task force to improve cooperation between law enforcement agencies in dealing with organized retail crime, which involves the theft of goods from retail stores for resale. Such criminal activity costs major retailers billions in losses every year, the press release noted.
The press release said creating a new unit would allow the Attorney General's office to prosecute cases referred by county prosecutors, giving the state limited jurisdiction over such cases.
"Washington law enforcement agencies have limited resources to tackle these sophisticated crimes," Ferguson said in the press release. "A modest investment in a centralized statewide organized retail crimes unit will hold criminals accountable and deter crimes which cause significant economic harm to our state."
According to the press release, nine other states have similar state tasks forces dedicated to investigating and prosecuting organized retail crime.