Alameda County District Attorney’s Office Awarded $2M Grant to Fund First-of-its-kind Model to Combat Organized Retail Theft
Oakland, CA. September 14, 2023 – The Alameda County District Attorney’s Office (ACDAO) was awarded a significant two million dollar grant to fund a new prosecution unit to address the growing issue of Organized Retail Theft (ORT) in the community.
The first-of-its-kind model will focus on the investigation and prosecution of organized retail theft crimes, using a vertical prosecution model. Under the grant program, a Deputy District Attorney, an Inspector II, and Senior Program Specialist will be assigned to the unit, working together to investigate and prosecute ORT cases from start to finish.
“ORT cases are time intensive and complex. This grant will allow our office to devote resources exclusively to these cases,” said Chief Assistant District Attorney Otis Bruce, who oversees the criminal prosecution unit of the Alameda County District Attorney’s Office.
Alameda County’s retail economy accounted for more than an estimated $22 billion in taxable retail sales in 2023. From 2019 to date, just over 1800 incidents of theft were presented to the Alameda County District Attorney’s Office to review, and only a small fraction included ORT allegations. Over the referenced five-year period, the Office was able to act on 1286 of them. But outcomes have varied as the ACDAO has not been able to devote resources exclusively to ORT which requires staffing to maintain sensitive communication with law enforcement partners, leverage data to connect incidents and ultimately resolve cases appropriately through conviction and/or diversion.
“Our plan is to address the low rates of case resolution and create more opportunity for evidence-based diversion and restorative justice opportunities,” said Tara Regan Anderson, Assistant Chief of Administration and Operations, who will be part of the team that oversees the unit.
Alameda County is one of 13 district attorneys’ offices across California recommended to receive funding to establish new vertical prosecution units. The grant is part of the state’s largest-ever investment to combat organized retail crime in California. Once approved, the funding is slated to be dispersed on October 1, 2023. The funds will be allocated in annual installments over the next three years.
“Organized retail theft has instilled fear in merchants, consumers and the wider community,” said Alameda County District Attorney Pamela Price. “This grant allows for the establishment of a specialized unit within the Office to tackle this problem effectively.”
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