RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – In recent months, CBS 17 has covered numerous robberies — but a new bill signed into law may help see that change.

During separate incidents, thieves broke into stores, at times stealing tens of thousands of dollars in merchandise.

“Nationwide we are looking at about $7 billion worth of merchandise stolen every year,” said Andy Ellen, the President and General Counsel of the North Carolina Retail Merchants Association.

Thursday, Gov. Roy Cooper signed Senate Bill 766 into law.

The new law focuses on organized retail theft. Organized retail theft is two or more people working together to steal from businesses with the intent to resell. 

The law also regulates high-volume third-party sellers online.

Ellen said this law is a proactive step to slow these types of crimes down.

“It increases penalties for those professional thieves,” he said. “We were never after the child that steals the one pair of sunglasses or a t-shirt. These are people whose job when they wake up every morning is to go steal from retailers in North Carolina.”

For thieves, depending on the severity of the crime and the amount stolen, it could ultimately mean more jail time.

“It is also very much a consumer protection thing especially (because) things stolen, like over-the-counter drugs, infant formula and things like that,” Ellen said.

Ellen also said organized retail crime leads to things like human and drug trafficking, in which he hopes this law can curtail, too.