California Governor Newsom Urges Legislation to Expand Property Crime Penalties

Sheila Fitzgerald /

On Tuesday, California Governor Gavin Newsom’s office put out a press release calling for new legislation expanding criminal penalties, bolstering police and prosecutor tools to combat theft, and taking down professional criminals who profit from smash-and-grabs, retail theft, and car burglaries.

The governor’s legislative plan calls for the creation of new laws and expanding criminal penalties to crack down on professional thieves—those who profit from stealing goods for resale—enhancing law enforcement’s ability to arrest suspects, creating a new crime addressing organized auto burglary committed to resell stolen property, eliminating the sunset provision for the organized retail crime statute, and exploring increased penalties for high-volume resellers of stolen goods.

Newsom said, “Building on California’s existing laws and record public safety investments, I’m calling for new legislation to expand criminal penalties for those profiting on retail theft and auto burglaries. These laws will make California safer and bolster police and prosecutor tools to arrest and hold professional criminals accountable.”

According to the California Government press release, proposals within the framework include:

  • Cracking down on professional thieves: Creates new penalties targeting those engaged in retail theft to resell, and those that resell the stolen property — increasing felony penalties and prison time.
  • Increasing enforcement tools: Bolsters existing laws to ensure police can arrest suspects of retail theft, even if they didn’t witness a crime in progress.
  • Aggregating theft amounts: Clarifies that the penal code allows law enforcement to combine the value of multiple thefts—even across different victims—to reach the threshold for grand theft.
  • Fighting auto burglary: Creates new penalties for professional auto burglary, increasing penalties for the possession of items stolen from a vehicle with intent to resell, regardless of whether the vehicle was locked.
  • Eliminating ORC sunset provision: Eliminates the sunset date for the organized retail crime statute. The law, which has been effectively used by CHP and others in the Organized Retail Crime Task Force, is set to expire on January 1, 2026.
  • Increasing penalties for resellers: Explores strengthening the law to increase penalties for large-scale resellers of stolen goods.

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