Press Release

Pro Tem McGuire, Speaker Rivas Fast-Track Retail Theft Legislation To Make California Safer, Stronger

SACRAMENTO – With a comprehensive and bipartisan package of Assembly and Senate bills aimed at halting retail theft and improving public safety heading to policy committees this week, today Senate President pro Tempore Mike McGuire (D-North Coast) and Speaker of the Assembly Robert Rivas (D-Salinas) reaffirmed their shared commitment to ensuring the legislation advances quickly through both houses.

 

The Senate and Assembly will hear the 14 bills in committees this week — seven bills from the Assembly and seven bills from the Senate. A dozen of these bills focused on retail crime and theft will be amended to include urgency clauses, ensuring they would take effect immediately when signed into law by Governor Gavin Newsom. 

 

Eleven of the bills also will include an amendment to address conflicting or unintended outcomes, if a ballot measure purporting to address retail theft and fentanyl is approved by voters. With these amendments, the Legislature is taking responsibility to ensure our laws meet the needs of the time and, particularly with public safety, protect Californians without being overly punitive or regressive. The amendments will also deliver real results, as soon as possible, to significantly improve safety for business owners and shoppers.

 

The bipartisan supporters of the 14 bills in the Legislature’s public safety and retail theft package include law enforcement members and organizations, prosecutors and district attorneys, local and statewide business groups, store owners and operators, grocers and community leaders.

 

The Pro Tem and Speaker are committed to action that delivers real solutions for safer neighborhoods and holds accountable criminals who harm our local businesses and shoppers.

Pro Tem Mike McGuire:

“The Senate and Assembly need to move with speed to address retail theft and local crime and these 14 bills will do just that. They’ll give prosecutors, judges and law enforcement the enhanced tools they need to make our communities safer and stronger. On the other hand, Republicans are wasting time playing partisan political games and working to implement their right wing agenda which would set California back decades with policies of mass incarceration that devastates Black and Brown communities and cost taxpayers billions of dollars. We urge our Republican friends to take this seriously, drop the posturing, and join us in casting votes that will make a difference in stopping retail theft, fentanyl, and other crimes in the Golden State.”

Speaker Robert Rivas:

“The Senate and the Assembly would be completely remiss in our job if we didn’t address the public-safety problems facing California, no matter the outcome of the November election. We have a serious organized retail theft problem in the state, everyone knows that, and these bills take action by giving police and district attorneys new tools to hold criminals accountable without going back to the blunt and failed force of the mass-incarceration era. It’s that simple. Republican legislators who are threatening to drop support of these smart and effective solutions are deflecting away from their own failures. And in the event voters go in a different direction this fall, the Legislature will respect that decision, because that’s what democracy is about.”

The package includes the following Assembly and Senate bills: AB 1779 (Irwin), AB 1794 (McCarty), AB 1802 (Jones-Sawyer), AB 1960 (Soria), AB 1972 (Alanis), AB 2943 (Zbur/Rivas), AB 3209 (Berman), SB 1144 (Skinner), SB 1416 (Newman), SB 905 (Wiener), SB 982 (Wahab), SB 1242 (Min), SB 1320 (Wahab), and SB 1385 (Roth).

Hear from the Assembly Bill authors:

Assemblymember Rick Chavez Zbur (D-Hollywood):

“The California Legislature has listened and is serious about addressing retail crime in our communities. This comprehensive and meaningful bill package — including AB 2943, the California Retail Theft Reduction Act — advances balanced, effective, and meaningful solutions to retail crime while preserving those criminal justice reforms that have been effective at keeping our communities safe. The best solutions to challenging problems occur when we listen to all perspectives and try to achieve multiple goals rather than rely on proposals crafted by single interests that fail to take into account other perspectives. The Legislature’s retail crime package enjoys broad support and is the outgrowth of extensive engagement among the Speaker’s office, Senate Leadership, and the Governor’s office, and with policy experts, and key stakeholders — including retailers, workers, criminal justice reform advocates, and law enforcement. When he formed the Select Committee on Retail Theft last year, Speaker Rivas asked me and my colleagues to work expeditiously to address the problem of retail crime in our communities, and this comprehensive set of proposals will make meaningful progress this year.”

Assemblymember Jacqui Irwin (D-Thousand Oaks):

“Across California, shoppers and retailers are frustrated with the impacts of organized retail theft. The Legislature needs to give law enforcement and our prosecutors the tools they need to address these sophisticated retail theft rings. These criminals are making it harder for consumers to find the products they need during these tough times and threaten their safety when shopping in local businesses. This package of bills does just that, including AB 1779 which restores the efficiency and effectiveness of cross jurisdictional charging that was key for prosecutors between 2019-2021. The restoration of this tool to the Attorney General in 2022 was an important first step, but with more multi-county cases than the Department of Justice can effectively pursue, we must fully leverage our District Attorneys who have already been funded at the state level for this important work.”

Assemblymember Reggie Jones-Sawyer (D-Los Angeles):

“Establishing the California Highway Patrol’s Organized Retail Theft Task Force in 2018, under my bill AB 1065, was the first step in dealing with the growing threat. 

“Since then great strides have been made in curbing retail theft including 1,225 investigations, resulting in over 1,800 arrests and the recovery of almost half a million stolen retail merchandise items valued at more than $21 million by the Task Force. 

“This impressive progress extends to various counties across the state, including over 300 retail theft prosecutions in Los Angeles. These results demonstrate that current tools are effective in punishing and curbing retail theft. Now, under my new bill, AB 1802, both law enforcement and district attorneys will permanently have the ability to continue to combat retail crime by using the tools and resources afforded them with my bill.” 

Assemblymember Marc Berman (D-Menlo Park):

“Whether you’re working at a neighborhood store, or shopping there, you deserve to feel safe. The Legislature’s bipartisan, comprehensive retail theft package puts Californians’ safety first by giving local law enforcement new tools to combat retail crimes,” said Assemblymember Marc Berman. “By creating the retail crime restraining order, AB 3209 is a commonsense solution which will further discourage organized and repeated retail theft. The comprehensive retail theft package balances keeping California’s stores and workers safe from crime, while not being overly punitive or regressive. The entire package was developed in partnership with both houses, the Governor, and stakeholders to ensure our constituents end up with a thoughtful, coordinated retail theft solution.”

Hear from Senate Bill authors:

Senator Nancy Skinner (D-Berkeley):

“Retail theft today is sophisticated and organized, using online marketplaces to sell large quantities of stolen goods. Taking down these online fencing operations is key to lowering retail theft in our communities. My bill, SB 1144, holds online marketplaces accountable to check the legality of their sellers. With SB 1144 and the other bills in this package of urgent legislation, we are advancing proven solutions to tackle retail theft and tackle it now.”

Senator Josh Newman (D-Fullerton):

“The Senate’s Safer California Plan gives law enforcement the tools and resources they need – as soon as possible. Our package of bills sends a clear message that we are willing and able to tackle the retail theft crisis as urgently as we can. By holding the middlemen driving online resale markets accountable, we’re protecting business throughout the state, combatting retail crime, and keeping Californians and their communities safe.”

Senator Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco):

“While the Senate is focused on urgent, commonsense solutions to deploy immediate – and urgently needed – resources to communities battling crime, Republicans are playing political games instead of giving our law enforcement officers the tools they need. As soon as this package is signed by the Governor, the outdated and senseless locked door loophole will be eliminated and Californians can feel safer in the communities they call home.”

Senator Aisha Wahab (D-Hayward):

“Organized retail theft is significantly harming businesses, communities, and families throughout the state. Small mom and pop shops are the backbone of our communities and they are struggling the most, which is why we must take action. We need solutions now. Simple fixes like eliminating sunset provisions in our penal code will give District Attorneys in every corner of California the tools they need to convict criminals. By having this package of bills take effect immediately, we’re showing up for our friends, families, and neighbors to help put a stop to organized retail theft.”

Senator Dave Min (D-Irvine):

“Cracking down on retail theft not only protects the businesses that call our great state home, but protects the countless, hardworking employees that are the hearts of our economy and our communities. We are moving quickly to allow law enforcement to prosecute criminals and deter future crime. I am proud to support our law enforcement and give them the tools they need to fight crime in the Golden State and hold criminals accountable.”

Senator Richard Roth (D-Riverside):

“This critical public safety package addresses the underlying causes of crime, including drug use. The Legislature is leading the charge to enhance enforcement efforts and create a pathway for treatment for those affected by the opioid epidemic. We can’t afford to play partisan politics, and we can’t afford to wait another day to help Californians get the help they desperately need.”

 

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Assembly Speaker Robert Rivas represents California’s 29th Assembly District, which includes all of San Benito County and portions of Monterey, Santa Cruz, and Santa Clara Counties. For a full biography of Speaker Rivas, click here.

Mike McGuire is President pro Tempore of the California Senate. He represents the North Coast of California, which stretches from the Golden Gate Bridge to the Oregon border, including Del Norte, Trinity, Humboldt, Lake, Mendocino, Sonoma, and Marin counties. Website of Senate Leader McGuire: https://sd02.senate.ca.gov.