Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody has announced a statewide task force of police agencies, prosecutors and business representatives targeting organized retail theft.
Seventy percent of store owners nationwide report an increase in crime over the past year. Most of the high-profile, smash-and-grab cases are taking place outside of Florida in cities like San Francisco, where several multi-day crime sprees disrupted holiday shopping.
Moody says “Florida will never become California” and the new task force will focus, not on petty theft, but on organized criminal schemes that can result in major losses.
It will help law enforcement agencies find the leaders of smash-and-grab theft gangs and their associates working across county lines.
She says they’ll develop FORCE, the Florida Organized Retail Crime Exchange, “a database, an exchange of information which allows us to track what seem like single incidents of theft and allow us to put together the pieces to identify the larger scale criminal organizations that are going into our stores and stealing large amounts of merchandise.”
Moody made a point of contrasting Florida’s leadership with California, where some cities have seen organized mobs raiding stores.
Attorney General Ashley Moody said, “We are seeing lawlessness and out-of-control mobs preying on businesses and consumers in major cities outside of Florida, and we will not allow these crime sprees to harm Floridians or our retailers. While we have done a good job of catching and prosecuting major retail theft rings in Florida, the threat is growing, and we must evolve with it.
“As Attorney General, I am always searching for new and innovative ways to combat crime and assist law enforcement in bringing criminals to justice. I am excited to launch the Florida Organized Retail Crime Exchange—a statewide task force and an interactive database bridging together law enforcement, prosecutors, and retailers in an effort to share information on retail crime throughout the state and stop these criminals before they cause more harm.”
Governor Ron DeSantis is also asking the Legislature for $3.5 million to re-establish the Florida State Guard, a civilian military that he, not the Pentagon, would control.
The State Guard would provide support for the Florida National Guard during emergencies, like hurricanes.
Nearly every state has laws authorizing state defense forces, and twenty-two states, plus the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, have active forces with different levels of activity, support, and strength.