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Bills take aim at online sale of stolen goods

By , IDG News Service
September 22, 2008 07:50 PM ET

Page 2 of 2

Retailers are concerned about working with eBay on a shoplifting program designed by the online auction site, but would welcome cooperation on their terms, said Frank Muscato, a retail crime investigator with Walgreens. "By giving them the information, we're giving the case away," Muscato said. "We have no control in what they do with it. We're not going to reach out and give them that information without some kind of guarantee."

Torpoco said he's "stunned" that retailers would refuse to work with eBay. The online auction site will help retailers get reluctant law enforcement officials involved, he said.

"If you've got evidence, send it to eBay; we'll do the right thing," he said. "I'm certainly surprised to hear that a retailer would not join with eBay's efforts to prosecute an individual out of concern over losing control. This issue is serious enough that we ought to put aside such irrational fears."

One lawmaker questioned whether retailers were willing to spend money for theft controls on low-cost, often-shoplifted products such as razors and baby formula. There's no real way to track and identify the rightful owner of small items after they've been shoplifted, witnesses said.

"My question is, how do you say eBay ought to do more, when eBay turns around and says you guys ought to do more?" said Representative Daniel Lungren, a California Republican. "What I'm hearing is, 'It is an acceptable level of loss that we take because it would be too expensive for us to go further.'"

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