‘We’re sick and tired’: New bill increases jail time for shoplifters

FRESNO, Calif. (KGPE/KSEE) – Those behind a new bill introduced in the California State Assembly, say it would crack down on retail theft plaguing the state, as it promises jail time for repeat offenders.

AB 1772 would amend Prop 47, which has held all thefts valued under $950 as a misdemeanor crime since it passed in 2014.

Currently, the maximum punishment for that crime is six months in jail.

But what AB 1772 would do is increase the maximum penalty for repeat offenders to up to one to three years in county jail.

“What the bill does, is it says, ‘If this is your third offence, you’re going to county jail. You will spend time in prison.’ And, it will be a direct answer to Prop 47,” said California Assemblyman Jim Patterson, who co-authored the bipartisan assembly bill.

Patterson, a Republican, said while both sides of the aisle don’t always get along on many issues, he said most know the statewide retail theft epidemic has to stop.

“We’re sick and tired of seeing the theft go unpunished, the cost to the retailers, the absurdity of allowing these people to come in, gang rush a store, take thousands of dollars out of it, and basically law enforcement can’t do a thing about it. This bill changes that,” he said.

Small business owners like Roman Gonzales have felt the effects of shoplifting firsthand.

Gonzales is the owner of Drip On Drip at River Park, where in late November, thieves were captured on camera smashing through his store windows and clearing out the rare designer clothing on display.

A sight he couldn’t believe.

“My heart dropped,” said Gonzales. “We have so much hard work we put into this business, accumulated all the work we have here, and I just felt that my hard work was taken away from me right away.”

Gonzales, along with the ownership of River Park, both say they strongly support the bill and agreed that it could provide the accountability they’re looking for.

“It would let the criminals know that this is not going to be tolerated. We’re going to take steps to prosecute them and make sure that this doesn’t happen to any small business at all,” said Gonzales.

To be enacted, AB 1772 would have to get through the state legislature and Gov. Gavin Newsom’s desk.

For the latest news, weather, sports, and streaming video, head to YourCentralValley.com.