Shoplifting in California may get a lot easier, after the state Senate passed a controversial bill on May 31 that would make it illegal for store employees to confront thieves.
SB 553, authored by Democrat Senator David Cortese (San Jose), requires employers to maintain violent incident logs, provide active shooter and shoplifter training, and to discard policies requiring workers to confront suspected active shoplifters, the Epoch Times reports.
According to Cortese, the bill is intended to "help employers keep employees safe at work."
The bill, which passed the Senate by a vote of 29 to 8, is pending further review by state Assembly committees.
According to the California Realtors Association (CRA), the bill will apply to all industries - not just retail, if passed. CRA president and CEO Rachel Michelin told Fox2/KTVU that the bill "goes way too far."
"I think it will open the doors even wider for people to come in and steal from our stores," she said.
According to the CRA, most retailers already prohibit regular employees from approaching someone who is shoplifting. These situations are handled by employees specially trained in theft prevention instead.
If employees trained in theft deterrence are not allowed to do their job per the bill, “What does that mean? We are opening up the door to allow people to walk into stores, steal, and walk out,” Michelin added. -Epoch Times
According to a position letter from the California Chamber of Commerce, the bill "takes a regulation written for hospitals related to workplace violence and applies it to all workplaces, regardless of size of resources."
"Substantively, SB 533 does not change the realities around workplace violence—namely, that it is a criminal matter that employers are not well-equipped to prevent."
In recent years, shoplifting has become a serious problem, with retailers such as Target anticipating a $1.3 billion hit due to "theft and organized crime."
In Downtown San Francisco, Target employees told the San Francisco Standard that they're experiencing at least 10 thefts a day.
The Target store at 1690 Folsom St initially locked up most of its merchandise to deter shoplifting, but quickly changed to only locking up more valuable goods.
As shoplifting plagues the San Francisco Bay Area, confronting thieves could be dangerous, even for trained professionals.
Whether to confront or not confront shoplifters has become a hot topic, especially after a security guard shot and killed a suspected shoplifter at a Walgreens store in downtown San Francisco.
San Francisco District Attorney Brooke Jenkins decided not to charge the guard, Michael Earl-Wayne Anthony, after reviewing the surveillance video and Anthony’s testimony. -Epoch Times
It's unclear whether SB 553 applies to security guards.
Meanwhile, in 2014 California voters passed Prop 47, which downgraded certain thefts and drug offenses from felonies to misdemeanors. Its most well-known statute raised the minimum amount of stolen goods from $400 to $950 for a theft case to be classified as a felony, which critics consider to be the main cause of a rise in petty theft across the state.
It also allowed felons serving prison terms to petition for resentencing under the new classifications. Those who have already served their terms can also have their past convictions reclassified as misdemeanors.
Thanks to Prop 47 thefts under $950 will not be prosecuted, so cops will not bother showing up. Just a reminder that you get what you voted for, California! pic.twitter.com/jWUPdJzy0A— Adam Carolla (@adamcarolla) July 20, 2021
As the Times notes, weeks before the fatal Walgreens shooting, a 26-year-old Home Depot employee, Blake Mohs, was shot and killed attempting to stop an active robbery at a store in Pleasanton when he grabbed a DeWalt box out of the hands of the suspected shooter, Benicia Knapps. Knapps reportedly grabbed the box again after shooting Mohs, and got into a car driven by her boyfriend, David Guillory. She was later apprehended by Alameda Country Sheriff's Deputies following a pursuit.
Apparently the answer to incidents such as the above is to allow shoplifters to simply walk out without confrontation.