Governor Newsom’s Aggressive Strategy Against California Retail Crime Garners Praise in Entertainment News

By: Lauren Wurth | Last updated: Feb 18, 2024

California’s Governor, Gavin Newsom, has recently proposed a new plan to crack down on retail and auto crime in the state to better protect his citizens and businesses.

Newsom has had a long-standing Real Public Safety Plan, but this new legislation will build on the original plan by creating new penalties for thieves and resellers, increasing enforcement tools, and aggregating theft amounts.

Ongoing Theft in California

Before diving into Gov. Newsome’s newest legislation it’s first crucial to understand the theft issues currently troubling California.

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Man shoplifting at a retail store

Source: Freepik

The state saw a 28.7% increase in shoplifting in 2022, commercial burglary was 15.7% higher in 2022 than it was in 2019, with the Bay Area seeing the largest increase in retail crime of any county.

Cargo Rail Theft Is Also on the Rise

In recent years, California has also experienced an incredible uptick in rail cargo theft. Essentially, trains that are transporting retail products across the state are stopped and gutted for tens of thousands of dollars worth of goods.

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Aerial view of a Union Pacific freight train passing along a section of tracks littered with debris from packages stolen from cargo containers

Source: Mario Tama/Getty Images

These various styles of theft are greatly affecting California businesses, even leading some to close their doors forever due to such significant losses in profit.

Gov. Newsom’s Plan

So, to combat this issue, Gov. Gavin Newsom has decided it’s time for the government to make a real change in policy.

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California Governor Gavin Newsom addresses a crowd

Source: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

He said in his statement that he is calling for “expanding criminal penalties to hold criminals accountable and bolstering police and prosecutor tools to combat theft and take down suspects who profit from smash and grabs, retail theft, and car burglaries.”

There Are 5 Proposals in the Legislation

Essentially, there are five changes Gov. Newsom wants to see made as soon as possible. The first is cracking down on professional thieves.

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Man with handcuffs at a table

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That means “targeting those engaged in retail theft to resell, and those that resell the stolen property” and increasing the penalties and prison times they receive when found guilty.

Increasing Enforcement Tools and Aggregating Theft Amounts

Next, the Governor wants to “[Bolster] existing law to ensure police can arrest suspects of retail theft, even if they didn’t witness a crime in progress.”

Several California police officers patrolling the streets on bicycles

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As well as clarifying the penal code in order to allow law enforcement to combine the value of multiple thefts. In this way, criminals will be tried for the total amount they have stolen at once, even from multiple victims, instead of being charged with several petty crimes.

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Fighting Against Auto Burglary and Increasing Reseller Penalties

New penalties will also be put in place for those committing auto burglary, whether the car was locked or not. These penalties will also increase for those attempting to resell the vehicle.

Man in a black mask and hoodie attempting to steal a car

Source: Freepik

Across the board, Governor Newsom wants to increase penalties and jail time for all resellers of stolen goods.

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Improving Police Cooperation to Get Thieves Off the Streets

And finally, Gov. Newsom is planning to increase operations within the California Highway Patrol and the other factions of law enforcement to fight retail crime and burglary together.

Member of the California Highway Patrol by his squad car with a gun in hand

Source: Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images

Newsom said, “Leveraging hundreds of millions of dollars in law enforcement investments, the California Highway Patrol — working with allied agencies — is increasing enforcement efforts and conducting and supporting covert and confidential takedowns to stop these criminals in their tracks during the holiday season, and year-round.”

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Significant Arrests Made by California's Retail Crime Task Force

According to ABC 7, the California Highway Patrol’s Organized Retail Crime Task Force has made over 1,000 arrests within the first 11 months of 2023.

A black and white California Highway Patrol SUV is parked with the iconic Golden Gate Bridge in the background

Source: Wikimedia Commons

This represents a significant 109% increase in arrests compared to the previous year, as reported by Governor Gavin Newsom’s office

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New Bipartisan Committee Addresses Retail Theft

ABC 7 reports that on the same day that marked a notable increase in arrests, the California Assembly Select Committee on Retail Theft convened for its inaugural meeting. 

A man in a brown coat is browsing through a selection of shirts in a clothing store

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This new bipartisan committee aims to offer a platform for discussing and identifying policy solutions to the escalating retail theft crisis. The formation of this committee signifies a collaborative effort to tackle the challenges posed by retail theft head-on.

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Assemblyman Vince Fong Calls for Community Safety

According to ABC 7 Assemblyman Vince Fong, emphasized the impact of retail crime on community safety, stating, “Every single time there’s a flash mob, rob, a flash mob property where our sense of security is eroded each of these heist take away from our peace of mind when we go shopping with their families.” 

A woman and a man, seen from behind, are standing on an escalator with a young child held between them. The woman, wearing a denim jacket, is looking at the child, while the man, in a beige sweater, is holding the child securely. They are ascending the escalator in a shopping mall

Source: Alexey Bocharov/Unsplash

He advocated for a safer environment for communities, stressing the importance of working alongside law enforcement to combat criminal activities effectively.

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Over 187,000 Stolen Items Recovered

Gov.Newsom’s office announced that more than 187,000 stolen items had been recovered from retailers, ABC 7 reports.

A police officer in a black uniform and peaked cap is standing in profile with a focused gaze. He has a badge on his right arm

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This recovery not only represents a financial win for the affected businesses but also a restoration of security and peace for shoppers and the wider community.

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Governor Newsom Applauds Efforts Against Organized Retail Crime

Gov.Newsom lauded the state’s proactive stance against organized retail crime, saying in a statement, “As reports of organized retail crime increase nationally, California is meeting the moment by leading more takedowns and making more arrests than ever before.” 

California Governor Gavin Newsom is captured mid-speech, standing outdoors with a natural backdrop of lush greenery. He is dressed in a dark blue suit and tie, gesturing with his right hand as he speaks

Source: Getty Images

He expressed gratitude towards the California Highway Patrol and its partners for their relentless pursuit of justice and their role in safeguarding the state’s retail sector.

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Collaboration with the California Retailers Association

The California Retailers Association has played a crucial role in addressing retail theft, working closely with the Newsom administration.

The logo of the California Retailers Association features a stylized illustration of the California state outline in blue, green, and orange colors. Above the state outline, the text reads "CALIFORNIA RETAILERS ASSOCIATION" in bold uppercase letters, followed by the tagline "Consumers Economy Jobs" in green

Source: California Retailers Association/Facebook

ABC 7 reports that Rachel Michelin, president of the association, highlighted the collaborative efforts, including securing $267 million in local law enforcement grants specifically allocated to combat retail theft. 

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Proposition 47 Under Scrutiny

The Select Committee on Retail Theft’s hearing brought California Proposition 47 to the forefront of discussions. This proposition, which categorizes nonviolent property crimes valued under $950 as misdemeanors, has been debated for its leniency, as per information from ABC 7.

A close-up of the lower half of a group of people standing side by side, each holding various shopping bags. The bags are of different colors and sizes

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Committee members are examining whether the law’s threshold contributes to retail theft or if there’s a need for stricter enforcement of misdemeanor theft penalties.

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Diverse Perspectives Within the Select Committee

The 11-member Select Committee on Retail Theft, composed of Assembly members from various regions of California, showcases a diverse range of perspectives on how to address retail theft. 

customer is seen pushing a red shopping cart down a bright supermarket aisle. To the left, a section is stocked with various nutritional shakes and health-related products, which are locked behind glass. To the right, shelves are lined with an array of cleaning supplies

Source: Getty Images

ABC 7 reports that their collaborative effort through the 2024 legislative session represents a comprehensive approach to tackling the issue, reflecting the complexity and urgency of the retail theft crisis in California.

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Commitment to Continue the Fight Through 2024

The Select Committee on Retail Theft’s dedication to persist in its efforts through the 2024 legislative session demonstrates a long-term commitment to combating retail theft. 

Overhead view of a bustling department store interior with customers browsing through various luxury brand counters like Lancôme, Dolce & Gabbana, and Estée Lauder. In the center, escalators transport shoppers between floors

Source: Tuur Tisseghem/Pexels

This ongoing work highlights the importance of sustained attention and action to address the challenges posed by retail crime, ensuring that the committee’s strategies evolve in response to the shifting landscape of retail theft.

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Governor Newsom Acknowledges Law Enforcement's Role

In a statement, Gov. Newsom acknowledged the critical role of law enforcement agencies, including the CHP, police, sheriff, and district attorney partners, in the fight against retail crime. 

A close-up image of Governor Gavin Newsom actively speaking at an outdoor event. He is gesturing with his hand and appears to be in mid-sentence, with an expressive look on his face

Source: Getty Images

His gratitude towards these agencies underscores the collaborative nature of the state’s approach to combating retail theft, highlighting the importance of leveraging all available resources and partnerships in this endeavor.

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Proactive Measures to Prevent Retail Crime

California’s approach to combating retail theft involves not only reactive measures, such as arrests and item recoveries but also proactive strategies aimed at preventing crime. 

A close-up image showing the hands of a person in handcuffs resting on a black horizontal bar. The metal handcuffs are secured around the wrists

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The state’s efforts to enhance law enforcement capabilities and strengthen partnerships with retailers reflect a comprehensive strategy to safeguard businesses and consumers from the impacts of retail theft.

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A Unified Effort for a Safer Shopping Environment

The concerted efforts of the California Highway Patrol, the California Assembly Select Committee on Retail Theft, and the California Retailers Association represent a unified front against retail theft, as per ABC 7.

A wide street flanked by tall palm trees and luxury retail shops. The center is beautifully landscaped with colorful flowers, and the road appears quiet with minimal traffic. The shops display large, inviting windows

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By fostering an environment of cooperation and ongoing dialogue, California aims to build a comprehensive framework that not only addresses the symptoms of retail crime but also targets its root causes, ensuring a secure and thriving retail sector for the future.

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Newsom’s Plan Is Seeing Support From Many in California

One of the first to publicly support Gov. Newsom’s new legislation is the state’s Attorney General, Rob Bonta.

California Attorney General Rob Bonta

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AG Bonta said, “We appreciate the Governor’s leadership, and will continue working with his office and our legislative partners to eradicate organized retail crime.”

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San Francisco District Attorney Brooke Jenkins Agrees

And the San Francisco District Attorney Brooke Jenkins also had nothing but supportive words for the Governor and the legislation.

San Francisco district attorney Brooke Jenkins (L) speaks as San Francisco police chief William Scott (L) looks on during a press conference

Source: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

She said, “Governor Newsom’s proposed theft crimes legislative package will make our communities and businesses safer.”

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The Sheriff's Department is on Board Too

Tulare County Sheriff and President of the California State Sheriffs’ Association, Mike Boudreaux, also weighed in on the matter.

Tulare County Sheriff and President of the California State Sheriffs’ Association, Mike Boudreaux

Source: @Tulare County Sheriff's Office/Facebook

He said, “California is safer when law enforcement and prosecutors have more tools to arrest suspects and hold them accountable. I look forward to working with the Governor and the Legislature to get this done.”

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Gov. Newsom’s New Legislation Will Hopefully Make a Big Difference

Almost everyone within California’s government and law enforcement agencies is on board with the new legislation. Of course, there is always some debate, but the general consensus is positive.

Exterior of the California Department of Justice building in Sacramento

Source: Wikipedia

Whether or not the legislation will actually make a difference in decreasing California’s number of thefts every year is yet to be seen, but many are hopeful that it will do exactly that.

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Missed Funding Opportunity for Oakland

The Daily Mail reports that the city of Oakland missed a critical opportunity to secure a portion of $267 million in funds allocated by the state to combat retail crime. This financial support, approved by Governor Newsom, was distributed among 55 awardees to enhance their capabilities in fighting organized retail theft. 

A complex network of multiple highway overpasses intertwining above a cityscape during golden hour, with buildings and residential areas in the background

Source: cosic_sale/X

These funds were intended to create task forces, hire and train new staff, and acquire new technologies. Unfortunately, due to not meeting the application deadline, Oakland was unable to benefit from this initiative, a situation that Governor Newsom highlighted with concern, mentioning repeatedly the city’s failure to apply for the funds.

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Governor Newsom's Reaction to Oakland's Oversight

Governor Newsom expressed his disappointment in Oakland’s oversight, emphasizing the missed opportunity to strengthen the city’s fight against retail crime. 

Governor Gavin Newsom in mid-speech, gesturing with his hand in an indoor setting

Source: Wikimedia Commons

“The governor brought that up one, two, three times… He talked about the missed deadline, and then about 10 minutes later he said the same thing over, ‘We’ve made that available to you, and you didn’t file,’” Robert Harris from the Oakland NAACP told Local News Matters

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Rising Crime Rates in Oakland

Oakland has experienced a notable increase in violent crime, with a 21 percent rise in violent incidents, a 38 percent increase in robberies, and a 45 percent surge in vehicle thefts between 2021 and 2023, The Daily Mail reveals.

View of downtown Oakland's skyline featuring various buildings with the Oakland Bay Bridge

Source: Wikimedia Commons

These statistics illustrate the city’s escalating crime problem, highlighting the missed opportunity to obtain additional resources that could have helped address these challenges. 

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State Intervention in Oakland's Crime Wave

In response to the growing crime rates in Oakland, Governor Newsom deployed 120 California Highway Patrol officers to the city and Alameda County. 

everal police officers discussing and investigating a crime scene cordoned off with yellow tape, with evidence markers placed on the ground

Source: SecureAmerica/X

This move was aimed at assisting local law enforcement efforts in combating the surge in thefts that led to the closure of several businesses, including a Denny’s that had been operational for 54 years and the city’s only In-N-Out Burger, marking the first time the chain has ever closed a restaurant due to crime, according to The Daily Mail.

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CHP's Role in Addressing Oakland's Crime

The Daily Mail explains that the California Highway Patrol officers dispatched to Oakland were tasked with addressing various types of crime, including auto theft, cargo theft, retail crime, and violent crime. 

A parked California Highway Patrol car

Source: Wikimedia Commons

Within a short span, from February 5 to 9, the CHP made dozens of arrests, demonstrating the state’s commitment to supporting Oakland in its fight against crime.

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Mayor Thao's Response to State Support

Oakland Mayor Sheng Thao expressed her gratitude for the state’s intervention and support in addressing the city’s crime issues. She highlighted the city’s ongoing efforts to increase law enforcement investigations, police recruitment, and investment in community and violence intervention efforts. 

Three uniformed police officers and a civilian woman in a red suit posing for a photo at an outdoor event

Source: Sheng Thao 盛桃/Facebook

“I’m grateful for Governor Newsom for providing these critical law enforcement resources that are a game-changer in helping us hold more criminals accountable and make Oakland safer,” she stated on X, formerly known as Twitter. 

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Community's Push for DA Recall

The rising crime rates and perceived leniency in prosecutorial policies have led to a community-driven recall effort against Oakland District Attorney Pamela Price. 

A woman speaking at a podium with the District Attorney's Office seal during a press conference, flanked by four men in business attire, with onlookers and microphones in the foreground

Source: AlamedaCountyDA/X

Locals frustrated with the deteriorating quality of life have gathered over 80,000 signatures, surpassing the 73,000 required to qualify for a recall by March, The Daily Mail reveals.

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DA Pamela Price's Policies Under Scrutiny

The Daily Mail reports that District Attorney Price, who took office in 2022, faces criticism for her policies aimed at seeking shorter prison sentences, more lenient criminal charges, and refusing to charge juveniles as adults. 

A woman standing at a podium with the District Attorney's Office emblem for Alameda County, addressing an audience during a press event

Source: AlamedaCountyDA/X

Critics argue that these policies contribute to Oakland’s spiraling crime situation, as the city grapples with a significant increase in homicides, assaults, and robberies. 

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Oakland's Crime Statistics

The Daily Mail reveals that Oakland’s crime wave has persisted for over two years, with a dramatic 80 percent increase in homicides in July 2023 compared to 2019 rates. 

A photo showing a man in a face covering snatching the purse of a woman who has a frightened expression

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Assaults and robberies have also seen significant increases, further compounding the city’s public safety challenges. According to Neighborhood Scout, Oakland’s violent crime rate is almost four times higher than the national average, ranking it among the most dangerous cities in America.

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Comparative Crime Trends in California

While overall crime rates in California, including in San Francisco across the Bay, have been on the decline, Oakland presents a contrasting scenario with its crime rates moving in the opposite direction. 

The winding road of Lombard Street, lined with lush greenery and flowering bushes, with the cityscape of San Francisco in the background during the day

Source: Braden Collum/Unsplash

Governor Newsom highlighted this discrepancy, stating, “As crime rates across California decrease — including right across the Bay in San Francisco — Oakland is seeing the opposite trend.” 

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Efforts to Combat Crime in Oakland

In the face of these challenges, Oakland is taking measures to combat the rising crime rates through increased law enforcement investigations, police recruitment, and community and violence intervention efforts, according to The Daily Mail.

A close-up of a police car with its emergency lights activated, on the side of a city street

Source: Matt Popovich/Unsplash

Mayor Thao’s acknowledgment of the governor’s support reflects the city’s commitment to making Oakland safer and holding criminals accountable. 

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Oakland's Path Forward

The collaboration between state and local authorities, along with community involvement, marks a critical step towards addressing Oakland’s crime problems. 

California Governor Gavin Newsom seated and speaking at a public event, with a blue background

Source: Getty Images

With the support of Governor Newsom and the proactive measures taken by Mayor Thao and the Oakland Police Department, there is a concerted effort to improve public safety and reduce crime in the city. 

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