California Governor Newsom on Wednesday announced new efforts to quell a wave of retail thefts and other crimes following a series of violent incidents involving shoplifters in recent months .
Appearing with law enforcement officials and statewide mayors at a small business in Long Beach, the Democratic governor signed a bill to create crime task forces around the California Highway. Patrol and local agencies to combat organized theft rings.
The bill – AB 331 – also reinstated retail organized theft as a felony, a designation that had lapsed on July 1. It also applies to those who work with thieves to steal or receive stolen goods and to those who recruit or organize the theft. rings.
“We have been very deliberately organized to solve the problem of organized retail crime for a number of years,” Newsom said. “We are redoubling our efforts today with this bill, which I will be signing here in a moment.”
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The task force teams will focus on three regions – the San Francisco Bay Area, San Diego and Orange County.
“We cannot do it alone. We need you, the public, our communities, we need our public partners to help us in this effort,” said PHC Commissioner Amanda Ray.
Newsom’s office did not respond to a request for comment from Fox News. Fox News has also contacted the offices of progressive district attorneys George Gascon of Los Angeles County and Chesa Boudin of San Francisco, both of whom have come under fire for refusing to prosecute certain crimes.
According to the National Retail Federation, two California cities – Los Angeles and San Francisco – rank among the top five cities for organized retail thefts.
Retail thieves have become more daring in recent months as videos of thefts in San Francisco and Los Angeles have gone viral. A video circulating online Tuesday appears to show two men from the Los Angeles suburb of Granda Hills casually leaving a TJ Maxx store with their arms full of items.
A man had a large gym bag that appeared to be filled with stolen items. Rite Aid employee Miguel Penaloza was shot and killed on July 15 as he confronted two men who tried to leave the Los Angeles store with beer without paying, police said.
The two suspects are wanted.
In San Francisco, 10 people walked into a Nieman Marcus store and snatched designer handbags as part of a destruction program before rushing to the waiting cars.
“The whole issue is a challenge – the brazenness of some of these crimes,” San Francisco Police Chief Bill Scott said on Wednesday. “When they see these things going viral, the perception of lawlessness, the perception that anything goes – that has to be overcome too.”
Retailers began to complain about an increase in shoplifting after the passage of Proposition 47, a statewide referendum passed in 2014 that downgrades property theft below $ 950 . The idea behind the measure was to reduce some non-violent crimes from felonies to misdemeanors with the aim of freeing law enforcement and prosecutors to focus on violent offenders.
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Newsom also highlighted the state’s efforts to reduce gun violence, noting that California has gone from the third gun fatality rate in 1993 to the seventh in 2017.
“We know how to deliver results. California is at the forefront of gun safety reform and common sense,” he said. “We recognize the headwinds; there are 39.7 million reasons to point this out. That’s the number of people living not only in the state of California, but coincidentally, the number of people who got verified. of the FBI’s track record for purchasing firearms last year. This is the highest number of firearms purchases in American history. We are facing a firearms epidemic . “
Jessica Millan Patterson, president of the California Republican Party, said Newsom only takes crime seriously because he faces a recall election.
“Now, with an imminent recall, he claims it’s time to get serious,” she said in a statement. “Voters can see through his photo ops and on September 14, will replace him with a leader who is committed to restoring safety to our communities.” “