California bill aims to protect retail businesses and the public amid spike in smash-and-grab thefts

Jessica De Nova Image
Wednesday, December 28, 2022
CA bill aims to protect retailers amid spike in smash-and-grab thefts
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A dramatic increase in brazen smash-and-grab robberies across the U.S. have some California lawmakers looking for ways to protect business owners and the public.

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (KABC) -- A dramatic increase in brazen smash-and-grab thefts across the U.S. have some California lawmakers looking for ways to protect business owners and the public.

One of those is California's 66th District Assemblymember Al Muratsuchi (D-Rolling Hills Estates).

"We've all seen these viral videos of the smash-and-grabs and I'm hearing more and more from my constituents, as well as folks from throughout the state of California -- their concerns about the spike in these brazen acts of retail theft," Muratsuchi said.

According to the National Retail Federation, Los Angeles was among the top five cities affected by organized retail crime over the last year, alongside the San Francisco/Oakland area, New York, Houston and Miami.

Rachel Michelin, the president and CEO of the California Retailers Association, described the issue as one of public safety.

"This is about our employees and our stores," Michelin said. "It's about our customers who are shopping and it's about the neighborhoods in which retailers invest in. And we're seeing more and more retailers making the decision to cut hours. They are, in some cases, closing stores. It's impacting the communities in which they operate."

Muratsuchi introduced Assembly Bill 23 to amend Prop 47, which passed in 2014.

Muratsuchi said if passed, AB 23 would restore some balance in our criminal justice system.

The bill seeks to lower the threshold for the amount punishable as a felony from the current $950 to $400 or more stolen.

Muratsuchi described the bill as "one that continues to provide the necessary support services for those that need it, but at the same time, restoring some accountability, especially for repeat offenders so that we can protect the public."

AB 23 would have to be approved by voters.