WASHINGTON, D.C — With increased reports of stolen baby formula landing on our nations shelves, U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) today called for swift passage of legislation that would increase sentences and provide law enforcement with additional tools to fight back against dangerous and sophisticated prescription drug theft rings. This is the latest in Brown’s increased efforts to help keep the flow of highly-addictive and illegal prescription drugs out of Ohio.

“Recent reports of stolen baby formula landing on our nation’s shelves are alarming and require increased enforcement to squash this trend,” Brown said. “Targeting families and our youngest Americans is simply outrageous. This bill is about putting criminals on notice and making sure the penalties fit the huge societal costs associated with the crime.”

Baby formula is a highly-sought item by shoplifting rings because it is expensive and always in demand. According to a 2010 National Retail Federation survey 59 percent of retailers have experienced an increase in retail theft over the past year.

Specifically, Brown’s legislation would:

  • Increase sentences for the theft of medical products, like baby formula and for transportation and storage of stolen medical products, and apply that increase to each current section of federal law that could be used by prosecutors to charge such crimes;
  • Enhance penalties for stolen medical product “fences,” including individuals and organizations who knowingly obtain stolen products for resale into the supply chain;
  • Increase sentences when harm occurs or trust is broken – in other words, where the defendant is employed by an organization in the supply chain or where there was a death as the result of ingestion of a stolen substance;
  • Make theft of medical products a predicate for the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) law, giving law enforcement access to wiretaps and other sophisticated tools;
  • Provide for civil penalties and forfeiture of ill-gotten gains derived from medical product theft.