California Lawmakers Set Sights on Retail Theft to Combat Rising Crime Rates

California Lawmakers Set Sights on Retail Theft to Combat Rising Crime Rates

California Assembly Introduces Bill to Combat Retail Theft

California Assembly Speaker Robert Rivas announced on Thursday the introduction of the California Retail Theft Reduction Act, which aims to combat retail theft. This comes nearly four months after the formation of a bipartisan select committee and two hearings. The legislation was created in response to a 29% increase in shoplifting in 2022 and a 16% increase in commercial burglaries of items totaling over $950 between 2019 and 2022, according to the Public Policy Institute of California.

Key Provisions and Penalties of the California Retail Theft Reduction Act

The California Retail Theft Reduction Act would create a new crime of possessing stolen property with the intent to sell for professional retail thieves, with a penalty of up to three years in prison. It can be difficult to prove “intent to sell” in court, but repeated offenses or possessing a large amount of goods that is “inconsistent with personal use” are considered evidence. Other key provisions include:

  • Creating a statewide retail theft task force to include a representative from the Attorney General’s office, retail industry representatives, and law enforcement agencies.
  • Providing additional training to local law enforcement on how to identify, investigate, and prosecute retail theft cases.
  • Ensuring that online marketplaces and secondhand dealers are operating legally and required to maintain records of their transactions.
  • Creating a statewide retail theft database to track stolen goods and assist with investigations.

Addressing Proposition 47 and Porch Pirates

In 2014, voters approved Proposition 47 which set a threshold of $950 to prosecute shoplifting as a felony. The California Retail Theft Reduction Act can be enacted without changing this threshold. In addition to this legislation, Democratic Assemblymember Evan Low has also proposed a bill on Thursday to make entering the “vicinity of a home” with the intent to steal mail packages illegal.

Impacts on Labor Groups and Businesses

California’s Private Attorneys General Act is being debated again by labor groups and businesses alike. Labor groups like the act because it allows the state Labor Commissioner’s Office to investigate and sue employers for violating labor laws. On the other hand, businesses are campaigning to repeal the Private Attorneys General Act citing that it subjects businesses to costly suits over technical violations, while enriching attorneys. The sides have until the end of June to reach a deal and get the Legislature to pass a bill making changes to the law in exchange for pulling the repeal measure off the ballot.

Low-Income Students and Learning Loss

A recent settlement between California schools and low-income families is expected to spend $2 billion to help students bounce back academically by hiring tutors, adding instructional time and offering extra services such as after-school programs. Remote learning has magnified pre-existing inequities, and most educators believe the state offered little guidance. Recovering from learning loss is a tall order, given that some districts failed to provide low-income students and students of color with enough devices and Wi-Fi hotspots, didn’t address students’ mental health needs and didn’t provide adequate academic instruction.

Rep. Katie Porter on Policy Priorities

Representative Katie Porter gave CalMatters reporters an hour of her time to answer questions about her political philosophy and policy priorities. Highlights from the interview and Porter’s political views can be found on the CalMatters website.

Opinion: Teachers’ Unions vs. Charter School Advocates

CalMatters columnist Dan Walters noted that teachers’ unions have long been at odds with charter school advocates and that the unions are close to winning a major battle in Los Angeles. Assemblymember James Ramos wrote in support of honoring tribal partnerships established decades ago if California legalizes sports gambling.

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California lawmaker bill to address retail theft, Prop. 47
As of Sept. 1, Retail Crime Prevention Act in effect

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