North Carolina is taking action in response to a growing trend of organized retail theft in the state.
Lawmakers hope to curb this increase with the passage of House Bill 384, which will ease prosecution and strengthen punishments for the crime come December 2017.
Organized retail theft harms both businesses and consumers; it involves stealing goods in large quantities and selling them at prices that undercut retailers.
According to a study by the National Retail Federation, organized retail crime costs the retail industry $30 billion a year. This prevalence is due in part to the lack of regulation in online marketplaces like eBay.
"It's an unfortunate fact that with any channel of commerce, criminals try to beat the system," said eBay spokesperson Ryan Moore in an email statement.
House Bill 384 includes an entirely new subsection specifically pointed toward e-buyers, enforcing transparency and proof of legal purchase.
Ann Edmondson, spokesperson for the North Carolina Retail Merchants Association, said opioid addictions are a possible motivation for committing or becoming involved in organized retail crimes.
“The whole opioid epidemic, things like that drive these sort of occurrences because people need to fund those habits,” she said.
The Raleigh Police Department has made similar connections to the opioid crisis, though no definitive conclusion has been publicized.