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AG Nessel and Retail Leaders Hold Organized Retail Crime Roundtable

LANSING – Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel, top executives from leading Michigan retailers, and members of the FORCE Team gathered today for a roundtable discussion on combatting organized retail crime. The roundtable featured discussion on the partnership between the first-in-the-nation unit and retail businesses as well as how to build on the many early successes of the FORCE Team as it marks its first year of operations. Representatives from Kroger, Meijer, Ulta Beauty, and Walmart joined the Attorney General and her FORCE Team today in Lansing to laud the unit’s successes.

“Organized Retail Crime is a criminal enterprise that goes far beyond petty shoplifting,” Nessel said. “It steals millions of dollars from Michigan businesses and consumers. The FORCE Team has shown great success in its first year, through partnerships with retail companies and many local, state and federal law enforcement agencies, stopping these organized crime rings in their tracks and bringing them to justice.” 

The FORCE Team and the Organized Retail Crime Unit were established in January 2023 by the Attorney General to target criminal organizations that steal products from retailers to repackage and sell for a profit. Since its inception, the FORCE team has charged 59 defendants in 33 cases that contributed over $20 million in losses to Michigan retail businesses. To date, the unit has recovered more than $10 million dollars in retail products, seized nearly $2 million in cash and secured 17 convictions and thousands of dollars in restitution. More than $4.5 million in restitution has been ordered in FORCE Team case resolutions. At present, the FORCE Team has 40 open cases.

“In its first year, the FORCE team has emerged as a national example of how fostering strong relationships between prosecutors, community partners, and law enforcement agencies can be incredibly successful,” Nessel said. “This unique unit has not only tackled loss prevention head-on but also prevented similar theft patterns from reoccurring. This groundbreaking approach has yielded significant results, making the FORCE team a model for other departments across the country and paving the way to a safer shopping experience.”

Two assistant attorneys general serve the FORCE Team full time, working with special agents within the Department of Attorney General and Michigan State Police detectives to investigate and prosecute these crimes. The unit also partners with the FBI’s Detroit Fraud and Financial Crimes Task Force and the Postal Inspection Service. This is a first-in-the-nation unit, unique in the 50 states as being the first such unit with embedded, dedicated staff from the Department of Attorney General. 

The FORCE Team is housed within the Michigan State Police.

“Large-scale retail crimes are not one-off opportunistic incidents. The criminals committing them are putting innocent store employees and our communities in danger as well as increasing prices for consumers,” said Col. James F. Grady II, director of the MSP. “Working together, we’re committed to making Michigan a place where everyone can feel safe and secure. I commend our FORCE Team detectives and police partners for the impressive work they’re doing to identify criminals and investigate organized retail crime.”

Today’s roundtable featured participating representatives from major retail partners Kroger, Meijer, Ulta Beauty, and Walmart.

"As we work to ensure the safety of our team members and customers, and mitigate losses driven by organized retail crime offenders and groups, it’s never been more important for retailers to work collaboratively against this increasing threat,” said Paul Jaeckle, Vice President of Asset Protection at Meijer. “We appreciate the efforts and partnership with Attorney General Dana Nessel’s office and the Michigan FORCE team as we collectively deal with this growing concern.”

“Addressing organized retail crime is a critical priority for Ulta Beauty because it affects the wellbeing of our associates, our guests and the communities we serve,” said Dan Petrousek, SVP Loss Prevention, Ulta Beauty. “We firmly believe that collaboration across the private and public sector is essential to addressing organized retail crime, and we’re grateful to Attorney General Nessel and her team for inviting retailers to the table to share information and potential solutions. We’re feeling inspired and energized by today’s dialogue and we remain committed to working across the retail industry to ensure the safety of our stores and communities.”    

“Walmart is proud of the strong partnership with Attorney General Nessel, the FORCE team, Michigan State Police, and other retailers as we work together to combat Organized Retail Crime,” said Edward Henkel, Senior Manager of Global Investigations for Walmart. “AG Nessel’s FORCE team is a national model for Walmart as we partner with law enforcement around the country. this FORCE team partnership is helping achieve our goal of keeping prices low so our customers and communities can live better.”

The FORCE Team is dedicated to working collaboratively with retailers and local law enforcement agencies to combat organized retail crime. FORCE is an acronym, that stands for Focused Organized Retail Crime Enforcement. Recent corporate partners on investigations have included Sam’s Club/WalmartMeijerTargetHome Depot, TJ Maxx, Rite-Aid, Lululemon, Ulta Beauty, and Lowe’s.

Local law enforcement agencies or retailers with evidence of organized retail fraud are encouraged to email the FORCE Team.


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