Walmart, Target push for new shoplifting crackdown in California

The retailers and two mayors are proposing a proposed ballot measure to undo Proposition 47.

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Two of the nation’s largest retailers and a pair of Democratic mayors are supporting a campaign to roll back California’s landmark criminal justice reform, which has been blamed for a spike in retail theft.

Walmart and Target are the top funders of a proposed ballot measure that aims to undo Proposition 47, a voter-approved law from 2014 that reduced penalties for many lower-level drug and property crimes in the state.

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The latest initiative would give prosecutors more power to charge accused thieves as felons and force drug users into treatment with the threat of jail time, said Greg Totten, head of the California District Attorneys Association, which is spearheading the effort.

Also see: ‘Smash-and-grab’ robberies fuel new laws, but critics question the need

The campaign has gained the support of San Francisco Mayor London Breed and San Jose Mayor Matt Mahan, who represent two of the most liberal cities in the US. Their backing reflects a growing frustration felt by the public and city leaders with the consequences of Proposition 47, which some say has emboldened criminals.

Critics point to a recent wave of smash-and-grab robberies at department stores and the prevalence of open-air drug use on city streets as evidence of the law’s shortcomings. In September, Target closed three California locations as well as six stores in other states, citing crime.

Proposition 47 was a “well-intentioned initiative” that has had “significant unintended consequences,” Mahan said at a press conference this week. “A small number of people brazenly commit crimes without fear of accountability. People are so trapped in addiction that they refuse services and subsist in misery on our streets.”

Other large backers of the campaign include a prison-guard union, Macy’s Inc., and businessman and political donor William Oberndorf, who was a major contributor to a 2022 recall effort that ousted San Francisco’s progressive district attorney, Chesa Boudin.

The mayors’ stance puts them at odds with other Democratic leaders in the state, including Gov. Gavin Newsom.

Supporters of Proposition 47, who include civil rights groups, public defenders and some law enforcement officials, credit the decade-old law for slashing incarceration rates, reducing racial disparities in arrests and cutting prison costs. The measure has also funneled funds to effective crime prevention programs, they say.

Retail theft

US retailers say they have suffered an increase in inventory losses, known as shrink, due in part to organized retail crime, which targets both high-end goods and everyday items like toothpaste and baby formula.

Also see: Retail group pulls back on claim organized retail crime accounts for nearly half of inventory loss

According to a study last year by the National Retail Federation, a trade group that includes Walmart and Target, shrink rose to 1.6% of sales in 2022, up from 1.4% the previous year, but in line with the two years before that. That worked out to about $112 billion in lost merchandise, and theft — both external and internal — accounted for almost two-thirds of the total. Shrink also includes losses from damage and administrative error.

Los Angeles and San Francisco topped the list of US metro areas most affected by organized retail crime, followed by Houston and New York, the trade group said. Sacramento, California, also ranked in the top 10.

Click here to read the full article in the OC Register


  1. Rico Lagattuta says

    Because of inflation $950 does not go as far as it used to. Smash & grabbers as well as everyday shoplifters need an increase in non-prosecution theft of at least $1045 (+10%).

    • You are EVIL to insist that poverty is cause of crime! There are millions of poor who do NOT steal. Criminals steal. Murderers kill. Rapists rape. That’s how it goes. It does not go “Become poor, become criminal”.

    • My apologies, RIco. I cannot see well, and misread your entire point. But, I think the jailable offense for shoplifting should start at $50. Seriously.

  2. They need to push Gascon out and that would solve much of the problems. He is light on crime and lets all of the offenders go it even they are arrested. He lets pedophiles and murders free while the homeless roam the streets to attack the citizens while most are mentally ill or drug deranged. Thanks, progressive corrupt George Soros DA’s they suck, and they hate this country.

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