With public pressure mounting, state legislators get serious about stopping shoplifting surge

Lawmakers attempt to crack down on retail crime, while preserving progress made in lowering incarceration rates

Tackling retail crime is top of mind for many state lawmakers, as evidenced by the flurry of new bills taking aim at shoplifting, smash-and-grabs and retail theft.

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Why the intense attention this legislative cycle? California politicians are facing new and mounting pressures to deliver solutions on rising rates of retail crime.

Shoplifting jumped by 81% in the city of Los Angeles last year — from around 6,600 reports in 2022 to almost 12,000 in 2023.

Statewide, reports of shoplifting rose around 30% between 2019 and 2022 and commercial burglary rates were up in 14 of the state’s 15 most populous counties.

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“The Legislature is responding to concerns of both the business community as well as the electorate; their citizens are complaining quite a bit because they have seen retail theft happen in person or on the news,” said veteran Sacramento lobbyist Chris Micheli. “We know this is a rampant problem and it is not getting better.”

In Downtown L.A.’s Fashion District, entrepreneur Sarhra Santhiallan says she’s eager to hire a security guard for her newly opened store. While this will be a significant cost for the small business, she feels it’s necessary to protect herself, protect her products and safely stay open after sunset.

A few doors down, Mike Shirazi says he won’t open his jewelry store unless he has private security available.

“It’s getting worst every day,” he said. “We hear lots of news that people get robbed and just a couple days ago we saw a smash-and-grab.”

The uptick in theft has prompted stores to lock goods behind glass and, in extreme cases, shut down.

“In parts of my district we were risking having major retailers starting to pull out and when that happens it impacts the whole neighborhood — it impacts the workers who lose their jobs and impacts the small businesses who rely on the large retailers for foot traffic,” said Assemblymember Rick Chavez Zbur, D-Los Angeles. “That’s why I went to (Assembly) Speaker Rivas and let him know that I was interested in working with him on developing a strategy to combat retail theft.”

Compounding public pressure for legislative action, signatures were recently submitted for a state ballot measure that would overturn key parts of Prop. 47 and reinstate harsher penalties for shoplifting and drug possession.

Prop. 47 was passed by voters in 2014 and made the theft of $950 or less in goods a misdemeanor. The goal was to decrease incarceration rates and direct offenders into rehabilitative programs. But since then many people have soured on the bill and believe it’s to blame for the rise in retail crime.

While many Republican legislators have long called for repealing the measure, many Democratic lawmakers would prefer to create new ways to tackle theft without repealing Prop. 47 wholesale.

“People basically say ‘all of this has happened because of Prop. 47, and their focus is on repealing Prop. 47 rather than actually thinking about what is it that we really need to do in order to stop the problem,” said Zbur. “I’ve never thought that the issue was Prop 47. I think what the data shows us that the issue is we have impediments to law enforcement doing their job.”

Click here to read the full article in the Press Enterprise

Comments

  1. Rico Lagattuta says

    Pass all the laws that make us feel good and increase the workload on the police. But if the City Attorneys, District Attorneys and all the other prosecutors don file charges or the judges don’t impose the penalty, nothing changes. Read “Personal Opinions of One Common Man” due out soon!

    • Pass anther 100 laws that conflict with each other and the result is the same. Legislators are the arsonists that now want to put out the fire. “Just trust us” the problem is they don’t want to incarcerate criminals: catch, ticket and release. How does that do anything?

  2. As long as we have the idiot Gascon as the DA in LA – FORGET IT!!!! NOTHING will change!!!!!

  3. An impending ELECTION is the only reason Dems are promoting new laws to crack down on crime. They know their ‘tough on crime’ laws will go nowhere as criminals will NOT be prosecuted by Soros DAs.
    It’s just another ruse to get re-elected and retain control of California for their regressive policies.

  4. LMAO!!!!!!

    What the Dem’s are finally figuring it out that stealing from businesses is not smart? Or are they figuring it out that without profit there is nothing to tax and that is what has led to the 10’s of Billions in Calif. State debt?

    Or maybe the Frank’s of the world who make vast sums of money in the good old USA, are (shhhh) Jews, and have kissed the ring of corruption that has been the hall mark of the Democrat Party going back to JFK– ARE NOW GETTING IT?

    (Oh that is right the Leftest media covered up multiple sexual affairs to make sure the Kennedy Clan were elected to the presidency) But wait that is what the Democrats have accused Trump of doing and want to send him to jail.

    So what is the article about? Oh that is right theft, stealing, robbery, but where were the Kraft’s, Job’s, and the Hollywood elite that are controlled by Jews (there is that pesky term) to speak out and stand by small government, and law and order right people.

    See it is all intertwined. Don’t like what I just said on the first night of Passover? THEN FIX IT.

    In California it is getting rid of the Das Williams, Gregg Hart, Helene Schneider, H. Miller, Slick Newsom, Scotty Weiner.

    Angry you darn right I am. The Left created the mess we are in. Here is a suggestion, I know some JDL types and NRA types just maybe it is time to stop letting the criminals out of jail, stop letting the Clinton’s get away with major Federal Crimes.

    Just a suggestion.

    Now you vote Dem in Calif. for what reason? You really must be that stupid.

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