On Wednesday, the Michigan House approved legislation to help deter organized crime against retailers in the state.

Organized retail crimes are committed by professional thieves who steal mass quantities of merchandise from local stores with the sole purpose of reselling the products to another store.

House Bills 5843 and 5902, sponsored by state Rep. Joe Graves and approved with bipartisan support, make participating in any aspect of organized retail crime a felony. The legislation also requires convicted criminals to repay the retail store and reimburse the government for the costs of prosecuting the crime.

"Cracking down on organized crime against retailers in Michigan is another step in the processes of keeping our communities safe and protecting our local small businesses that are fighting to be successful in our communities," said Graves, R-Argentine Township. "This provides law enforcement another tool in their toolbox and with the help of this legislation our local retailers can be confident that this crime will no longer be tolerated in Michigan. I hope the Senate takes this issue up quickly and sends these bills to the governor's desk for his signature."

A 2011 survey found that 95 percent of U.S. retailers were victims of organized retail crime in the last 12 months.

HBs 5843 and 5092 now head to the Senate for consideration.

Click below for audio from Graves: