New campaign aims to discourage retail theft

    New campaign aims to discourage retail theft

    OAKLAND, Calif. (KRON) – Serial shoplifters have been able to avoid being charged with more serious crimes because of the $950 threshold in California Proposition 47.

    Now, there is a new campaign aiming to change that.

    We have seen the images and videos of retail stores being hit by groups of thieves across the Bay Area, with seemingly nothing being able to deter them.

    “I went and talked to everyone that I could to try to figure out a solution on how we could turn the corner on this rampant theft that we are seeing in our state, and this is what we came up with,” Rachel Michelin, president of California Retailers Association, said.

    It is a campaign by the California Retailers Association called Californians for Safe Stores and Neighborhoods.

    One of the four primary aims is to deter retail crimes by eliminating the misdemeanor threshold and making repeat offenders eligible to be charged with felonies.

    “This means that you have stolen multiple times in order to meet that $950 threshold, which really means you’re a serial shoplifter. So, what we’re bringing back is the ability to aggregate those crimes,” Michelin said.

    Speaking by phone, KRON4 ran the idea by a San Bruno jewelry store owner who chased four thieves from his store at gunpoint.

    He says he doesn’t think the deterrent goes far enough.

    “No! To prevent that, we have to change some sort of a law. They have to do something because the police definitely can’t be everywhere,” Maaz Jewelers owner Usman Bhatti said.

    Law enforcement representatives say they support aggregating retail theft crimes but point out what they say is another loophole in current California law – zero bail schedule.

    “The larger issue is that folks commit felonies, particularly here in Oakland, gun crimes, and they come back the same day. They commit multiple shopliftings. They come back the same day. What we have to do is that when you commit felonies, you need to stay in jail, or you have to have a bail schedule that’s consummate with the level of crime you committed,” Officer Barry Donelan said.

    “That’s not our fight. Our fight is about retail theft. That’s what we are trying to solve,” Michelin said.