Will the legislature do nothing about retail theft?

In the wake of the stall or demise of two bills aimed at reducing rampant retail theft, the state director for California’s largest small-business association today called on state lawmakers to come clean and just admit they intend to do absolutely nothing about the problem.

“Even our state’s  progressive attorney general has acknowledged that ‘organized retail theft costs businesses, retailers, and consumers – and puts the public at risk,’ said John Kabateck, California state director for the National Federation of Independent Business. “Why, then, the quick, unceremonious death of Senate Bill 316 and the sentencing of Assembly Bill 1708 to legislative limbo? Both measures sought to make modest modifications to Prop. 47 that would not have threatened the main goals of the ballot measure that passed in November 2014, and both enjoyed bipartisan support.

“What is it about the highly flawed and mis-sold Proposition 47 that has turned so many of California’s legislators into cult-like worshipers of it? They willfully and stubbornly will not recognize any flaw in their criminal creed.”

According to staff analysis of AB 1708, “Since Proposition 47 eliminated the use of felony options for most serial theft cases, law enforcement generally only use a misdemeanor citation, which usually results in the suspect being immediately released … With the rise in retail theft and the lack of accountability, a recent survey by UC Berkeley highlighted that a majority of California voters would like to see changes made to Proposition 47 to better address theft crimes.”

According to Kabateck, debate over the issue should not overlook the fact that “the more pervasive, common-place retail theft crimes are not just the organized ones hitting big stores, they also strike the most vulnerable, including small, ethnic business owners, employees, customers and families in our communities.”

NFIB is a partner in the Californians Against Retail & Residential Theft coalition where more information can be found.

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