DAs, retailers say California needs tougher retail theft law

DAs, retailers say California needs tougher retail theft law

December 3, 2021 Off By administrator

Spurred by a recent run of large-scale smash-and-grab robberies, prosecutors and retailers are pushing back on assertions by California’s governor and attorney general that they have enough tools to combat retail theft in the wake of a voter-approved easing of related laws.

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — Spurred by a recent run of large-scale smash-and-grab robberies, prosecutors and retailers are pushing back on assertions by California’s governor and attorney general that they have enough tools to combat retail theft in the wake of a voter-approved easing of related laws.

“We cannot function as a society where we have told people over and over again that there is no consequence for stealing other people’s property,” said Vern Pierson, immediate past president of the California District Attorneys Association and El Dorado County’s district attorney.

The complaints came as authorities on Friday announced what they said was “one of the largest retail theft busts in California history,” a haul of $8 million worth of merchandise stolen from San Francisco Bay Area retailers including CVS, Target and Walgreens, along with $85,000 in cash and nearly $1.9 million from various bank accounts.

While shoplifting has been a growing problem, recent large-scale thefts in California and elsewhere in which groups of individuals brazenly rush into stores and take goods in plain sight are ”raising it to a whole new level,” said California Retailers Association President and CEO Rachel Michelin.

“We feel a little bit like we’re under assault,” she said.

National retail groups last month estimated the annual losses to be in the tens of billions of dollars. Some states’ attorney generals are supporting a congressional bill that would require more prevention efforts by large online marketplaces, where experts say many of the stolen goods are fenced.

The thefts have become a political issue as well, particularly in California, where critics place blame on progressive policies like Proposition 47, a ballot measure approved by 60% of state voters in 2014 that reduced certain theft and drug possession offenses from felonies to misdemeanors.

California Gov. Gavin Newsom and Attorney General Rob Bonta separately argued Wednesday that police and prosecutors still have the legal tools to go after such perpetrators, and Newsom called out some local officials he said choose not to do so.

“It’s patently false to assert that we have enough laws on the books that are fixing this problem, because it’s obviously not going away and won’t be going away,” countered John Kabateck, director of the California chapter of the National Federation of Independent Businesses.

Yet arrests are happening and the five people who pleaded guilty in the massive bust Bonta announced Friday did so under existing laws to various felonies, including conspiracy to commit organized retail theft, receiving stolen property…

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