California Democrats at Odds With Cops, Businesses Over Bid to Curb Massive Retail Theft

It’s nice to be a criminal in California and know that Democrats in the state legislature have your back.

There’s a looting crisis in California. It’s so bad that some people are refusing to shop in brick-and-mortar stores anymore. Stores are being redesigned to try and protect stock from the rapacious hands of organized gangs of looters.

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The problem is Proposition 47. Passed in 2014, it was meant to reduce the jail population, which Democrats believe is far more important than actually putting criminals inside of jails.

The ballot measure made it a felony to shoplift only if the amount taken exceeded $950. It’s a bogus number. In fact, police (rightly) don’t devote a lot of resources to finding and prosecuting individual shoplifters.

But criminals saw it as a license to steal. The recent looting incidents involving dozens of young offenders taking tens of thousands of dollars in merchandise have all sides in the debate saying that something must be done.

Democrats are also saying something needs to be done — except change all the beautiful “criminal justice reforms” we made that keep people out of jail.   

This isn’t sitting well with the cops or retail businesses that may be insured for the losses but are losing business as a result of the “smash and grab” robberies in the last few years.

Associated Press:

A coalition of district attorneys and businesses, mostly funded by big box retailers, is pushing for an initiative to bring harsh penalties for shoplifting and drug offenses. It would make theft of any amount a felony if the person already has two theft convictions.

Possession of fentanyl would also become a felony, and those with multiple drug charges would be ordered to get treatment.

The ballot measure would still need to be certified by the Secretary of State before it could be placed on the ballot later this month.

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Democrats, led by Governor Gavin Nerwsom, don’t want the measure on the November ballot. Too many Californians are opposed to “tough on crime” initiatives, and although this one may pass, many Democratic constituencies oppose it.

Instead of the ballot initiative, Democrats are rushing through a package of 14 bills that would go after the organized theft rings that are running wild in the suburbs.

“We still stand ready to sit down with anybody in leadership to talk about the measure, but I don’t want to compromise,” Greg Totten, a retired district attorney and a leader of the ballot initiative campaign, said during a news conference this week.

One of those 14 bills is a warrantless search measure that would allow police to “make warrantless arrests for misdemeanor shoplifting offenses (as in, items that total $950 or less) if officers have probable cause,” according to CalMatters.

The bill has bipartisan support with the backing of Assemblymember Juan Alanis, a Republican from Modesto and vice chairperson of the Public Safety Committee. In a statement, Carrillo said that by “increasing enforcement against suspected shoplifters, we are sending a clear message: we will not tolerate these acts that threaten our public safety and economic vitality.” 

But Inglewood Assemblymember Tina McKinnor, a fellow progressive caucus member, urged lawmakers to reject the bill, saying on social media that it was “bad for black and brown folks.” 

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The bill may not pass if the ballot initiative vote is scheduled for the summer. But organizers are sticking to their plan that unless Newsom and the Democrats agree to several of their demands, the ballot initiative will be on the November ballot.

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