California Lawmakers Introduce Latest Bill to Combat Retail Crime
After years of persistent thefts hitting retailers, some California lawmakers are looking to further protect businesses in their state through new legislation.
California 66th District Assembly member Al Muratsuchi introduced a new bill earlier this month that would amend the state’s current Proposition 47 law, which was approved by voters on November 4, 2014.
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Currently, Proposition 47 requires shoplifting, defined as “entering a commercial establishment with intent to commit theft” if the value of the property taken is under $950, to be punished as a misdemeanor. Under existing law, entering a commercial establishment with intent to take property over $950 is theft, punishable as a misdemeanor or felony.
In the new proposed bill, called AB23, Muratsuchi seeks to lower the threshold amount for petty theft and shoplifting from $950 to $400. The bill must be approved by voters.
This follows several recent large-scale retail thefts across the state. In May, more than $700,000 worth of stolen merchandise was recovered and a San Francisco Bay Area man was arrested in connection with a retail theft ring, the California Highway Patrol (CHP) said.
According to the CHP’s Golden Gate Division, authorities served search warrants at a home in Pittsburg, Calif., and a nearby storage facility. During the search, investigators discovered stolen merchandise from multiple retailers, including Macy’s, Lululemon, Target, CVS and more valued at “at least $715,000.” This arrest came just months after California Governor Gavin Newsom unveiled a new plan to fight and prevent crime in the state, as it faces an increase in organized burglaries that destroy and kidnap.
To combat this issue nationally, the US House of Representatives last month passed the Consumer Integrity, Notice and Fairness in Online Retail Markets Act (INFORM), which works to help inform consumers about with this illegal activity and helps law enforcement target criminals. who sell high volumes of stolen goods on e-commerce markets. The act is currently awaiting approval in the Senate.
The National Retail Federation’s 2022 National Retail Security Survey found that shrinking retail sales, when taken as a percentage of total retail sales in 2021, accounted for $94.5 billion in losses last year.
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