California lawmakers want to reduce shoplifting, but say it’s not as easy as it sounds

(Ben Margot/Associated Press)

California lawmakers want to reduce shoplifting, but say it’s not as easy as it sounds

California politics, homepage news, COVID-19 pandemic

Anabel Sosa

Dec. 30, 2023

As California lawmakers feel pressure to address crime concerns, murky and sometimes conflicting evidence of a rise in lawlessness has left lawmakers in hot water.

Recent studies show that shoplifting has increased in some of California’s major cities, with shoplifting rates in San Francisco increasing by nearly 50% since 2019, while some rural and suburban areas of the state have seen a decline in crimes.

To add to the confusion,

the National Retail Trade

Federation Foundation Foundation

retracted a claim in an April report that said organized retail crime was responsible for $94.5 billion in missing merchandise nationwide in 2021

which adds to the confusion

. In reality, that number turned out to be much lower.

In the first half of 2023

shoplifting decreased by 7 percent

in most major cities compared to the first half of 2019, except New York City, according to a survey by the Council on Criminal Justice.

Assemblymember Mia Bonta (D-Alameda), who serves on a recently created special committee to address shoplifting, said the inconsistent information makes it difficult to assess the damage.


issue as lawmakers prepare to reconvene in January and draft bills to combat the highly publicized rash thefts.

I am concerned about the way social media does not fully reflect the extent of crime we experience or the root cause of that crime, Bonta said.

Some California prosecutors and business leaders blame the state’s “toothless” laws against nonviolent shoplifting, saying the problem has worsened because there are no serious consequences for offenders.

They want changes made to the decade-old ballot measure


known as Proposition 47, that

classified as crimes committed

certain drug possession crimes and non-violent property crimes that do not cross the border

$950 worth. The value of $950 in crimes.

But civil rights advocates are skeptical of the return to a tough-on-crime approach.

“I think it’s difficult. The reality is that public safety problems are easy problems that can quickly be created by hyperbole and fear,” said Lenore Anderson, co-founder and president of the Alliance for Safety and Justice.

and co-author of who is co-author

Statement 47. “That’s part of the reason we fought as a state.”

There have already been two hearings this month To address this issue in Sacramento, one was held by the bipartisan Commission on Shoplifting and the other by the Little Hoover Commission, an independent state oversight agency asked by the Legislature to investigate these issues. Some lawmakers expressed frustration about how to move forward without clear data.

For people in my district, the only bill people know about is Prop. 47. But there is a lot of misinformation about that, said MP Pilar.

Shivao Schiavo


Chatsworth Santa Clarita

), a member of the newly convened 11-member committee,

which that

They met for the first time in December to discuss these issues.

The criminal penalty for non-violent shoplifting that does not exceed $950 in merchandise is typically up to six months in prison and does not carry a penalty of state prison, but opponents argue that few serve their full sentence and that some serve their full sentence .

don’t be strange

appear in court. So critics


that the measure is not aimed at repeat offenders.

Since 2019, shoplifting in San Mateo and San Francisco counties has increased by 53% and 43% respectively, the highest among California’s 15 largest counties, according to Magnus Lofstrom, policy director at the Public Policy Institute of California, who developed his report at a hearing

last this



for the Assembly Select Committee on Retail Theft.

A 2018 report from the PPIC found that recidivism rates dropped after Proposition 47 and that violent crime did not increase as a result of the measure.

But a leading organization of prosecutors says that has changed since the COVID-19 pandemic and the economic problems caused by job losses and government shutdowns.

Social media posts and reports of brazen shoplifters smashing windows and taking whatever items they can get have fueled fears that the laxer penalties under Proposition 47 were opening the door

to more crime and for its unbridled increase. ‘Prop. 47 was passed a decade ago,” said Cristine Soto DeBerry, executive director of the Prosecutors Alliance of California. “It’s a result of the pandemic and people struggling financially.”//The two parts of this quote don’t match. It sounds like she’s saying that Prop. 47 is the result of the pandemic and that people are having a hard time, which is clearly not what she is saying. //

Rachel Michelin, the president of the California Retail Assn. And


panelist at a hearing last week,


supports revising Proposition 47 in a November ballot measure, saying “it’s not about putting people in jail.”

Our goal is to prevent people from stealing [and] to deter the behavior,” she said. “Right now the perception is that you can go to a store, pack your bag with stuff and there won’t be any consequences.

Jeff Kreshek,

a senior vice president at Federal Realty Investment Trust, which is senior vice president of Western Region Federal Realty, which //Western Region is not part of the company’s name/

he says he owns 102 shopping centers across the country and throughout California. The problem is more pervasive and pronounced in the Golden State than in any other place where we have real estate.

But when lawmakers asked for data at last week’s hearing, he came up empty-handed.

“I asked fifteen retailers for data [before this] and they couldn’t deliver it. I realize it makes your job more difficult,” he told the committee. My data is that stores are closing, retailers can’t hire. Consumers tell us they don’t feel safe when they go out.”

Many speculate that data collection on these crimes is so scattered because not every incident is reported

there are

inconsistencies in the way police forces categorize incidents.

Lynn Melillo, a board member of the California Grocers Assn., said at this month’s Little Hoover Commission hearing that her “largest” spending goes on security guards.

“It feels like it’s there [are no consequences]’, she said. ‘We feel like we are on our own because we call the police […] they don’t always respond.”

Several lawmakers on the committee agreed that these crimes could be prevented once restrictions on the online sale of stolen goods are put in place.

A bill from Senator Nancy Skinner (D-Berkeley) addressed this issue and became law this year. The law requires online marketplaces to request certain tax, payment, and contact information from large third-party sellers to limit the sale of stolen goods. It also authorizes the attorney general to penalize merchants or platforms that violate the bill’s requirements.

The newly appointed

Chairman of the Labor and Employment Committee, Chairman of the Labor Committee Asm.

Liz Ortega (D-San Leandro), said there are still loopholes that need to be addressed.

“[That] is an area I really want to work on,” she said.

Kreshek van

Federal Real EstateWestern Region

said regulating the sale of goods on platforms such as Amazon and Facebook Marketplace is “no small task.”

“But is that part of a solution? Absolutely,” he said. “You have to remove the vehicle used to sell goods. If you don’t make it harder to sell, you won’t solve the problem



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