Salas cracks down on retail theft with sweeping reform

Assemblymember Rudy Salas (D-Bakersfield) introduced AB 1603, which will give California voters another opportunity to take a stand against the increase in theft afflicting the state. In 2014, voters passed Proposition 47 (Prop 47), which lowered the crimes of certain thefts and receiving stolen property to misdemeanors when the value of the stolen goods was less than $950. Since its passage, California has experienced a brazen increase in widespread theft, including “smash-and-grab” robberies, which have terrorized cities throughout the state.

“Enough is enough, we need to fight back against the criminals who are stealing from our communities,” said Assemblymember Salas. “We have seen the unintended consequences of Prop 47’s weakening of our theft laws and I believe California voters are ready to make their voices heard on this issue again. AB 1603 provides that opportunity and will allow us to take a stand against the theft and criminal gangs who are plaguing our state.”

Prop 47 more than doubled the amount a suspect can steal before facing a felony from $450 to $950. Consequently, local prosecutors report that numbers of thefts are likely under-reported, as business owners are discouraged since the penalty against criminals has been reduced to a misdemeanor. Over the past year, the National Retail Security Survey report stated that about 69 percent of retailers said they had seen an increase in organized retail crime activity over the past year. The report also notes that retailers report that gangs have become more aggressive and violent than in years past. Some 65 percent of respondents noted the increase in violence, while 37 percent said organized retail crime gangs were much more aggressive than in the past.

AB 1603 will fight back against the increase in retail crime by amending the theft provision of Proposition 47 by reducing the threshold amount for petty theft and shoplifting from $950 to $400, back to its original threshold before the passage of the measure in 2014. This amendment would become effective upon the approval of California voters as a ballot measure.

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