CHICAGO — Governor JB Pritzker will sign a bill Friday to impose harsher punishments on people who carry out organized retail crimes, including smash-and-grab burglaries.

The bill will create stiffer penalties for ringleaders of these thefts and makes it a little easier to prosecute them.

Smash-and-grabs have been an issue at malls in the suburbs, as well as high-end shops on Michigan Avenue and throughout the city. During a smash-and-grab, a group of people run in and grab as much merchandise as they can and then flee.

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The Illinois Attorney General’s Organized Retail Crime Task Force, along with the Illinois Retailer Merchants Association, helped craft the bill with lawmakers which was passed back in April. It did get some Republican support though, many called it a watered down version of the original bill.

Still, for the first time it defines organized retail crime in the state and it is a felony. It also eliminates a jurisdictional issue for prosecutors, such as when a theft happens in one county and the items are sold in another.

Online market places will also be required to collect and verify the identity and contact information for people trying to sell a lot of items at once.

Pritzker will sign the bill at Water Tower Place Friday morning.

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