With the holiday season underway, California retailers and shoppers have been horrified by continued acts of looting, theft and burglaries. Videos on social media depict lawlessness.
Years of policies that have undermined public safety have contributed to these acts of emboldened thefts. Within the last decade, numerous laws that protected the public were weakened under the disguise of financial savings but have only shifted costs to local communities.
It is the unfortunate consequence of policies like Proposition 47 that reduced penalties on property thefts less than $950 from a felony to a misdemeanor. This means no prison time. Charges for grand larceny (a felony) now require thefts of more than $950 – more than double the previous threshold of $400.
Now, not only will a thief steal more without facing a felony charge, they may steal again, and again, and again, without serious consequences. Each theft is counted as a single incident. The law allows for serial thefts. Thieves can repeat their criminal behavior as long as they don’t steal more than $950 in each larceny.
For every Nordstrom theft, there are thousands of mom-and-pop shops from pharmacies to jewelry stores to grocery stores that have been robbed without the dramatic videos. Small businesses are less able to afford such losses. Many are hanging on by a shoestring to stay open. California should not be known as a “shoplifter’s paradise.”
In the absence of meaningful changes in the law that prioritize public safety, more stores will face more criminal behavior during uncertain economic times, and everyday Californians will feel less safe in our communities.
TO READ THIS IN ITS ENTIRETY, PLEASE CLICK HERE.
Assemblyman Vince Fong has also written about the state’s proposed budget that doesn’t do justice to water shortage, and Assembly Bill 5 and its impact on California freelancers and independent contractors.