There’s a flurry of new proposed California legislative bills that would chip away at Prop 47,  including one intended to lock up people identified as “professional retail thieves.”

It’s now been nearly ten years since California voters approved the sentencing measure Prop 47, which generally recategorized theft charges for less than $950 of merchandise as a misdemeanor instead of a crime. And whether fairly or not, Prop 47 was being blamed for increasing crime almost immediately after it passed. Now ten years later, we do see that retail theft and robbery are still up across the state of California, according to the data below for the California Public Policy Institute.


Now even Democratic state lawmakers are rushing to either take Prop 47 back to the voters for another look, or tinker with it in the legislature. And the Southern California News Group reports on one of those new legislative measures, brought by three statehouse Democrats, which would zero in “professional retail thieves,” in the bill’s words, and make it easier to charge them with “intent to sell” the stolen goods.

“Organized retail theft is having a chilling effect on our communities,” one of the bill’s co-authors, Assembly Speaker Robert Rivas (D-Salinas) told the News Group. “Crime, like everything, evolves. And criminal enterprises are using new and different ways to get around current prohibitions … It is our responsibility to ensure that our laws are addressing the situation at hand.”

The bill is called the California Retail Theft Reduction Act, and its main goal is to add up the value of thefts from different retailers and aggregate them all into a grand theft charge.

It would also allow police to make arrests based on witness’ sworn testimony or on smartphone video recordings of a theft. And in keeping with Prop 47’s desire to lower the prison population, it does offer alternative programs to jail.

This is one of many current state bills that hope to crack down on retail theft and undo some elements of Prop 47. Another Democratic bill called AB 1772 would require jail time for anyone convicted of a third theft, though that bill would have to go before California voters if passed. Meanwhile, Assemblymember Cottie Petrie-Norris (D-Irvine) has a proposed bill called AB-2438 that would increase charges if the suspect acted in tandem with at least two other people to commit the crime.

The last statehouse push to chip away at Prop 47 was a 2022 measure that would have lowered the felony threshold from $950 to $400. That bill failed, though the political winds may have shifted since then.

Related: State Lawmakers Once Again Going After Prop 47 Amidst Retail Theft Blowback [SFist]

Image: Andrew D. via Yelp