Skip to main content

WNC Business

New NC law combats retail theft

Mar 05, 2024 06:56PM ● By WNC Business

RALEIGH – The North Carolina Retail Merchants Association and the North Carolina Conference of District Attorneys applaud the passage of legislation to combat cargo theft and financial crimes – both of which are tactics of organized retail crime rings. Retailers appreciate the commitment and partnership with law enforcement and district attorneys to work together to prevent these crimes and make certain this criminal activity is prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.  

The ORC legislation would not have become law without the bi-partisan work of many legislators who are sending the message that ‘Organized retail crime will not be tolerated in North Carolina.’ Senate Bill 409 “Various Changes to Criminal and Civil Laws,” was sponsored by Senators Danny Britt (R-Robeson), Tom McInnis (R-Anson), and Dave Craven (R-Guilford). The House companion bill was sponsored by Representatives Charlie Miller (R Brunswick), Reece Pyrtle (R-Rockingham), Carson Smith (R-Pender), and Robert Reives (D-Chatham) who ushered SB 409 through the House. The financial crimes provisions included in the final version of SB 409 were originally in  HB 495, sponsored by Representative Kevin Crutchfield (R-Cabarrus), Dudley Greene (R-McDowell) and  Representative Kristin Baker (R-Cabarrus). It was the diligent work of these bill sponsors that ensured its passage  through committee and floor votes in their respective chambers. 

“We appreciate the effort of the General Assembly and Governor Cooper to help North Carolina’s retailers by recognizing the growing problem of ORC and the financial burden it places on our retailers which, unfortunately, is often passed on to our customers,” said Andy Ellen, president and general counsel of NCRMA. “Creating new ways to charge career criminals engaged in financial crimes and acts of cargo theft will not only provide a deterrent, but also protect our store associates and customers.” 

Specifically, there are increased penalties for the growing problem of cargo theft - the bulk theft of pallets being transported via highways, railways, ports, and other transportation hubs. The value of the property stolen can be aggregated from multiple violations within a 90-day period and across jurisdictions. This law became effective December 1, 2023 and allows for the seizure and forfeiture of any vehicle used in the commission of the crime. 

The law related to financial crimes becomes effective March 1, 2024. Financial crime offenses include embezzlement, obtaining property by false pretenses, and exploitation of older adults. Importantly, the new law permits financial crimes to be aggregated if they were either committed against more than one victim or in more than one county. If two or more convictions for financial crimes of the same offenses are aggregated, the total value stolen is considered when determining the level of punishment.  

Both the cargo theft and financial crimes laws follow the same punishment thresholds as the organized retail crimes statutes with the level of felony dependent on the total amount stolen, with significant prison time for higher level offenses. 

“Our district attorneys have strong tools to prosecute criminals engaged in large-scale theft and financial schemes should they try to carry out these egregious activities in North Carolina victimizing our most vulnerable populations. Preventing this activity is key to maintaining safe communities and a strong economy,” stated Kimberly Spahos, Director and Chief Resource Prosecutor of NC CODA. 

ORC is not only a crime against property, but a crime against people. NCRMA and NC CODA applauds the passage of these new laws to stop this activity and prevent it from happening in the future while protecting North Carolina businesses and consumers.  

About the North Carolina Retail Merchants Association: 
The North Carolina Retail Merchants Association is a nonprofit trade association organized in 1902 to  improve the business climate for retailers in North Carolina. Over 120 years, NCRMA remains the voice of the retail industry for North Carolina. NCRMA represents the interests of individual merchants before the General Assembly and serves as a vital link to state government.  For more information, visit 

About the North Carolina Conference of District Attorneys:
The North Carolina Conference of District Attorneys was established as a state agency in 1983 under General Statute §7A-411, “to assist in improving the administration of justice in North Carolina by coordinating the  prosecution efforts of the various district attorneys, by assisting them in the administration of their offices…” The agency consists of, and is governed by Elected District Attorneys and has a staff in Raleigh to carry out their goals and objectives. For more  information, visit 

Source: NC Retail Merchants Association