Newsom Praised for His Plan to Crack Down on the Dangerously High Retail Crimes in California

By: Lauren | Published: Jan 28, 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

Source: Freepik

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

Source: David McNew/Getty Images

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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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

Source: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

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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