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CalChamber-Supported Retail Theft Bill to Be Heard in Committee Today

SupportA California Chamber of Commerce-supported bill that will improve public safety and reduce retail theft is expected to be heard in the Assembly Public Safety Committee this morning.

The bill, AB 2943 (R. Rivas, D-Salinas; Zbur, D- Hollywood), includes a key clarification that law enforcement can aggregate theft events across locations and days in order to create a case against a repeat, professional thief that rises to the felony level set forth in Proposition 47. It also gives law enforcement the ability to make arrests based on video footage of an event or a sworn statement of an eyewitness. These clarifications will help law enforcement take action against offenders in a quicker and stronger manner, thereby getting career criminals off the streets and deterring future thefts.

Retail Theft

Retail theft has been an increasingly serious problem for businesses in California. The Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC) reports that commercial burglaries increased during the first year of the pandemic, and after a 5.8% uptick in 2022, the rate is 15.7% higher than in 2019. The commercial robbery rate has increased by 13.3% since 2019, with an uptick of 9.1% in 2022. Law enforcement notes that these increases are largely driven by a few repeat offenders.

Repeated thefts have been cited in store closures across the state, depriving communities of brick-and-mortar options for their shopping needs. Additionally, increased security measures can hinder the customer experience and increase costs for businesses. Hiring security guards and installing physical theft-prevention tools, while necessary, cost businesses and impede lawful customers from easily accessing items they’d like to buy. Customers who witness thefts are left feeling unsafe in their own communities.

AB 2943

AB 2943 creates a new crime for those individuals who possess stolen goods with the intent to sell. This provision includes helpful guidance as to the evidence that can show “intent to sell,” which has been difficult to show under existing law. This new crime also targets professional thieves who may not actually commit the theft, but who traffic and sell these stolen goods, thereby enriching themselves.

AB 2943 also creates a diversion program for offenders who meet certain qualifications.

The provisions of AB 2943 are still being worked on, and the CalChamber looks forward to developing them further with the bill’s authors, as these relate directly to the business community.

Staff Contact: Brenda Bass

Brenda Bass

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