This measure addresses the ongoing increase in theft crimes since voters in 2014 approved Proposition 47, which increased the threshold for grand theft, a felony, from $450 to $950 per incident.
Prop. 47 has had the unintended consequence of incentivizing career criminals to take advantage of criminal justice reforms meant to prevent low-level offenders from receiving lengthy jail sentences. This class of offenders now find it possible to steal up to just under $950 worth of merchandise with little concern for the limited consequences (misdemeanor convictions carry little, if any, incarceration time), which are greatly outweighed by the potential financial gain of recurring thefts.
AB 1326 allows law enforcement authorities to aggregate the monetary value of property stolen by an individual over the course of a year, and authorize felony prosecution if that monetary value meets the $950 threshold. This measure addresses increased incidents of both individual shoplifting and organized retail theft operations responsible for the loss of millions of dollars in retail merchandise statewide, which entail a corresponding hit to local sales tax revenues.
According to the California Police Chiefs Association, statewide data collected from over 300 municipal police departments showed that California’s property crime rate increased 7.26 percent in 2015, compared with 2014. The rate change for the rest of the U.S., however, decreased
4.77 percent — a difference of over 12 percent. Only nine of 50 states reported property crime rate increases during the time period, with Hawaii being the only state with a higher rate and product loss than California.
According to the California Department of Justice, the value of stolen property in 2015 was just under $2.5 billion, an increase of $287.8 million (or 13.2 percent) over 2014. That represents the largest year‐over‐year increase in at least 10 years. These statistics are further corroborated by similar business trends regarding shoplifting.
AB 1326 is scheduled to be heard in the Assembly Public Safety Committee on Tuesday, March 28. The League encourages all cities to support this critical public safety measure.
The full bill text, the League’s support letter and a sample support letter cities can use is available at www.cacities.org/billsearch
by plugging AB 1326 into the search function.