Target, Best Buy CEOs ask Congress for help in handling crime surge

According to the retail CEOs, organized criminals are taking advantage of the anonymity of the internet and the "failure of certain marketplaces to verify their sellers."

Left: Target/Facebook; Right: Best Buy/Google Maps

The CEOs of Minnesota-based retail corporations Target and Best Buy are among the several executives who have called on Congress to address a persistent looting epidemic.

In a recent letter to House and Senate leadership, the Retail Industry Leaders Association expressed its support for the Integrity, Notification and Fairness in Online Retail Marketplaces (INFORM) for Consumers Act, which aims to strengthen consumer safety laws to protect both customers and businesses.

“As millions of Americans have undoubtedly seen on the news in recent weeks and months, retail establishments of all kinds have seen a significant uptick in organized crime in communities across the nation,” the letter states.

“The INFORM Consumers Act is a simple, bipartisan measure that will increase transparency online for all marketplaces, making it easier for consumers to identify exactly who they are buying from, and make it harder for criminal elements to hide behind fake screennames and false business information to fence illicit products while evading law enforcement,” it continues.

According to the retail CEOs, organized criminals are taking advantage of the anonymity of the internet and the “failure of certain marketplaces to verify their sellers.” They say they’re stealing loads of merchandise in “smash-and-grab” robberies so they can sell it to others.

“In the current environment, criminal networks and unscrupulous businesses have exploited a system that protects their anonymity to sell unsafe, stolen, or counterfeit products with little legal recourse,” the letter reads. “This lack of transparency on particular third-party marketplaces has allowed criminal activity to fester.”

The letter was sent to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, and Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell.

Among the signatories were Brian Cornell and Corie Barry, the CEOs of Target and Best Buy respectively, as well as the lead executives of CVS, Walgreens, Dollar General, Home Depot, and Foot Locker, along with several others.

“It is time for Congress to modernize our consumer safety laws so consumers, retail employees, and businesses are not targets of organized retail crime and dangerous counterfeit products,” the letter concludes. “Implementing basic transparency and verification protocols is essential and will finally expose criminals who are selling consumers stolen, fake, and dangerous products.”

Last month, Best Buy CEO Barry said in a television appearance that the smash-and-grab wave is hurting profits and traumatizing workers.

“What I would really stress here is, for our employees, these are really traumatic experiences, and they are happening more and more across the country,” she said on a CNBC program. “It’s really been a horrible change in the trajectory of the business, and one we are working hard to try and stem.”

Flashback

Target once glorified the 2020 BLM riots that saw several of its own stores vandalized. Specifically, the Minneapolis Target store that was looted and burned during last year’s unrest installed a mural that appears to celebrate arson upon its reopening.

A mural outside a Target in Minneapolis that was destroyed by rioters last May celebrates arson. (Ted Halbur/Instagram)

Best Buy has also supported a slew of left-wing causes backed by BLM. For example, the company vowed “to ensure that one out of three new non-hourly corporate roles will go to BIPOC candidates.” This means Best Buy wants its staff population to include slightly fewer white people per capita than America as a whole, which is 76% white.

It has also pledged $1.2 billion to non-white-owned institutions only.