WASHINGTON — Robb MacKie, president and chief executive officer of the American Bakers Association, will testify March 12 about plastic equipment theft before the Maryland House of Delegates Committee on Economic Matters. His appearance relates to Maryland’s H.B. 1088 bill, which seeks to increase penalties for theft and damages of returnable containers and returnable textiles.
J.R. Paterakis, vice-president sales and marketing for Baltimore-based H&S Bakery/Northeast Foods, will accompany Mr. MacKie. Mr. Paterakis has been a leader in a multi-industry effort to crack down on organized equipment theft. According to the Washington-based A.B.A., theft rings have caused more than $100 million in losses to the wholesale baking industry since 2009.
Representatives from the dairy and beverage industries are scheduled to appear, too. According to the International Dairy Foods Association, Washington, distributors pay about $4 for a milk crate. The I.D.F.A. estimates about 20 million milk crates are stolen annually in the United States. Replacing the stolen crates costs dairy producers about $80 million to $100 million per year.
Delegates Doyle Niemann and Michael Vaughn introduced H.B. 1088. Under the bill, the owner of a returnable container or returnable textile may bring a civil action and recover up to three times the value of the actual damages, plus reasonable attorney’s fees.
Under the bill, the person guilty of theft would be charged with a misdemeanor. For the first violation, the guilty person would face imprisonment not exceeding one year and/or a fine not exceeding $1,000. The current law for a first offense is imprisonment not exceeding one year and/or a fine not exceeding $50.Under the bill, the guilty person for each subsequent violation would face imprisonment not exceeding three years and/or a fine not exceeding $2,500. The current law for each subsequent violation is imprisonment not exceeding one year and/or a fine not exceeding $250.