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Assembly Speaker Rivas and Assemblymember Zbur Introduce California Retail Theft Reduction Act

For immediate release:

SACRAMENTO, CA — Last week, Assembly Speaker Robert Rivas and Assembly Democratic Caucus Chair Rick Chavez Zbur introduced the California Retail Theft Reduction Act, which contains both intent language and substantive language for key items to address retail crime across California. Also joining as Principal Coauthors from the Select Committee on Retail Theft are Assemblymembers Juan Alanis, Matt Haney, Liz Ortega, Blanca Pacheco, Cottie Petrie-Norris, and Pilar Schiavo.

The proposals in the bill are an outgrowth of the work of the Assembly Select Committee on Retail Theft—which Assemblymember Zbur chairs—and are intended to advance balanced, effective, and meaningful solutions that address the problem and preserve criminal justice reforms that have been effective at keeping our communities safe. Each element of the California Retail Theft Reduction Act can be enacted by the Legislature and signed into law by the Governor without voter approval.

Key elements of the California Retail Theft Reduction Act:

  1. This bill places great emphasis on stopping organized crime rings that are harming our communities. It does this by creating a new crime targeting "professional" retail thieves, with a penalty of up to three years for possession of stolen property with intent to resell. It also specifies that evidence of intent can include repeated conduct or possession of a quantity of goods inconsistent with personal use; does not require proof that a defendant acted with another person; and applies both to the retail thieves and secondary sellers. This item advances a key component of recommendations released by the Governor's office last month.
  2. The bill also specifies that the value of thefts from different victims can be aggregated to reach the threshold for grand theft.
  3. The bill tackles the problem of fencing and distribution of stolen goods on online platforms. The bill will require online sellers to maintain records demonstrating the lawful chain of custody for those goods and will include other measures to prevent stolen goods from being advertised and sold unlawfully on online marketplaces.
  4. The bill also increases data transparency by requiring large retailers to report specified theft data while protecting retailers' proprietary information.
  5. Significantly, the bill helps get at the root cause of theft by expanding the use of diversion and rehabilitative programs like drug court through increased supervision for shoplifting and petty theft, and the opportunity for early discharge from probation if the program is completed.
  6. The bill also expands tools for police to arrest for shoplifting based on a witness's sworn statement or video footage of the crime.
  7. The bill extends the ability of police to keep repeat offenders and those committing organized retail theft in custody.

We remain in discussion with stakeholders about additional proposals that may be added to the bill or a broader retail crime package at a later time.

"It is clear across the country that theft and organized retail crime are having a chilling effect on our communities," said Speaker of the Assembly Robert Rivas (D-Salinas). "Crime, like everything, evolves, and criminal enterprises are using new and different ways to skirt the law. That's not acceptable to me or to the public. We have to ensure California's laws are addressing the situation at hand. I am proud to serve as joint author of this important legislation alongside Assemblymember Zbur."

"With the introduction of the California Retail Theft Reduction Act, we are demonstrating that the California Assembly has listened and that we are serious about addressing the problem of retail crime that is plaguing our communities," said Assemblymember Rick Chavez Zbur (D-Hollywood). "Speaker Rivas asked the Retail Theft Committee to act expeditiously and we have advanced a comprehensive set of proposals that we believe will have a meaningful impact on stopping the growing threat of retail crime. This bill says to organized crime rings, 'We mean business, and we are going to give law enforcement the tools they need to shut you down.' To those who are engaging in shoplifting to survive, these proposals embrace new tools like enhanced supervision and diversion programs to help people get on their feet and move away from a life of crime. To the public, this bill demonstrates that the effective reform we need to protect our communities is on its way."

"Necessary public safety proposals cannot be delayed for another year," said Assemblymember Juan Alanis (R-Modesto). "I made a promise to work across the aisle with anyone who is serious about getting real solutions across the goal line. We must continue to make progress on public safety issues, like retail theft, and this package is a strong start in that effort."

"AB 2943 is a balanced approach that will hold professional thieves accountable for their crimes and give law enforcement more tools for dealing with repeat offenders—all while preserving the reforms that we know are improving public safety," said Assemblymember Liz Ortega (D-San Leandro).

"As a principal co-author of the California Retail Theft Reduction Act, I am committed to addressing the complex challenge of organized retail theft," said Assemblywoman Blanca Pacheco (D-Downey). "By introducing tougher penalties for professional thieves, enhancing measures to prevent the illegal online sale of stolen goods, and expanding the use of rehabilitative programs, we're addressing the issue from multiple angles. I'm proud to support a bill that not only holds offenders accountable but offers pathways toward rehabilitation."

"Retail theft is totally out of control, and it's time that we take back our shopping centers, our downtowns, and our small businesses from these organized criminal gangs," said Assemblywoman Petrie-Norris (D-Irvine). "Californians have the right to feel safe while shopping and going to work. Here at the Capitol, we are committed to addressing this problem, so that we can keep our communities safe and protect our businesses."

"As a member of the Select Committee on Retail Theft, I have had the opportunity to hear from those impacted by retail theft, law enforcement departments aiming to address theft, and community groups that work to mitigate its underlying causes," said Assemblywoman Pilar Schiavo (D-Chatsworth). "Through these comprehensive dialogues, I am proud to join as a coauthor of AB 2943, a measure specifically targeting repeat and serial retail theft offenders, one step in our effort to tackle this growing crisis, prevent crime before it happens, and keep our communities safe. I am grateful for the leadership of Assemblymember Zbur and Speaker Rivas in advancing this critical initiative to combat retail theft."

Assemblymember Rick Chavez Zbur serves as the Democratic Caucus Chair for the California State Assembly and represents the 51st Assembly District, which includes Universal City, Hollywood, Hancock Park, West Hollywood, Beverly Hills, Westwood, West Los Angeles, Santa Monica, and other portions of Los Angeles.