Reining in theft
Last updated 11/8/2023 at 5:39pm
Assemblymember Marie Waldron
California department stores have been raided by people walking out with thousands of dollars in stolen goods. Los Angeles County, the Central Valley and the Bay Area have been the most impacted, though it’s affecting the entire state.
Why is this happening and what can be done? One of the major contributing causes appears to be the passage of Proposition 47 in 2014. Called the “Safe Neighborhoods and Schools Act by its supporters (and who wouldn’t vote for that?), the proposition had the opposite effect.
Prop. 47 downgraded shoplifting and grand theft from felonies to misdemeanors when the stolen property is valued at under $950. Up to $950 can be stolen every day, but it never adds up to a felony. As a result, many stores in mostly urban areas have been forced to shut down.
For example, the zip code containing Union Square in San Francisco, the city’s retail hub, has seen almost 40 retail stores close since 2020. Reasons cited include thefts, and safety concerns for employees and customers.
I have introduced legislation to crack down on serial shoplifters, and co-authored legislation to repeal Proposition 47 entirely. Unfortunately, due to the current political climate in Sacramento, these bills never saw the light of day. Now however, with the situation so out-of-control, the tide may be turning.
Assembly Speaker Robert Rivas has announced creation of the “Select Committee on Retail Theft,” which will hold hearings this fall and next year.
The creation of the Select Committee is a step in the right direction. We need to find solutions to the high rates of retail theft that have been impacting our retailers. I am looking forward to constructive suggestions that will help restore civil order.