News & Politics

California Decriminalized Shoplifting. The Results Were Completely Predictable.

AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez

California Governor Gavin Newsom wants the citizens of his state to know that he is serious about fighting crime.

The fact that he’s involved in a recall election might have something to do with it. That and nightly news reports that are almost comical in nature. They show thieves in retail stores calmly and deliberately stuffing hundreds of dollars of items into bags and sauntering out of the story in full view of store employees and security guards.

The shoplifting problem has exploded in recent months as organized gangs of criminals have targeted pharmacies and grocery stores. In 2014, Californians approved Proposition 47 decriminalizing theft of property as long as the theft was under $950.

On Wednesday, Newsom signed a bill to create crime task forces around the California Highway Patrol and local agencies to address organized theft rings.

Fox News:

The bill — AB 331 — also re-established organized retail theft as a crime, a designation which had lapsed on July 1. It also applies to those who work with thieves to steal or receive stolen merchandise and those who recruit or organize theft rings.

“We’ve been organized in a very deliberative manner to address the issue of organized retail crime for a number of years,” said Newsom. “We are doubling down on those efforts today with this bill that I’ll be signing here in a moment.”

The task force teams will focus on three regions –  the San Francisco Bay Area, San Diego and Orange County.

“We can’t do this alone. We need you, the public, our communities, we need our public partners to assist us in this effort,” CHP Commissioner Amanda Ray said.

Because many of these criminals have gotten violent when confronted by store owners and employees, most owners have made the decision not to approach or confront shoplifters. And since it’s only a misdemeanor crime, police don’t even bother pursuing the cases. So the thieves take their time, load up their bags, and walk out the door.

“The overall problem is a challenge — the brazenness of some of these crimes,” San Francisco Police Chief Bill Scott said Wednesday. “When they see these things go viral, the perception of lawlessness, the perception that anything goes — that has to be overcome, too.”

Where did shoplifters ever get the idea that they wouldn’t be punished for stealing? As long as they don’t take merchandise worth more than $950, they’re in the clear. And the prospects of breaking the shoplifting gangs are bleak. All you need are three or four guys with plastic bags. Selling the merchandise is easy enough. You arrest one gang leader and another takes his place.

Meanwhile, the thefts continue unchecked. This has resulted in several retail outlets, including Walgreens and Target, closing stores due to losses from theft.

And then the activists whine about “food deserts” and big companies refusing to build stores in black areas.

It appears that Democratic mayors are achieving their goal of making their cities unlivable.