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Legislation Aimed at Addressing Retail Theft and Fentanyl Crisis Introduced in California

In an effort to address the fentanyl crisis and retail and community-based crime impacting communities throughout California, a bipartisan coalition of Senate members have announced a comprehensive legislative package of 14 bills aimed at addressing retail theft and the fentanyl crisis.

The legislative package—called Working Together for a Safer California—is built upon months of research, input from stakeholders and experts, and feedback from Californians, according to Senate members. The plan includes nine fentanyl-related measures and five bills targeting retail theft.

“Alone, these bills are strategic ways to tackle these dual crises of fentanyl and retail theft. But collectively, they are working together for a Safer California,” said Senate President pro Tempore Mike McGuire (D-North Coast) in a statement. “The plan includes a series of targeted policies aimed at stemming the rising tide of retail theft that’s impacting our communities, while also enhancing and protecting the quality of life for Californians and businesses up and down our state. And it includes a slate of legislation built on months of research and extensive outreach with all sides of the fentanyl crisis. I can’t thank this bold group of bipartisan Senators enough for their dedication to move this plan forward, and look forward to our continued partnership with Speaker Rivas, the Assembly, and Governor Newsom to deliver results for Californians and our communities.”

“When there is a need at hand, as there is with the fentanyl crisis and retail theft in our state, it’s not time for politics as usual—it’s time to come together and find solutions. That’s what the Senate is aiming to do,” added Senate Minority Leader Brian Jones (R-San Diego). “I’m optimistic about the proposals here today and look forward to continuing to work together for a Safer California.”

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The proposed bills focused on retail theft would require third-party sellers on online marketplaces to be certified, and ban sellers suspected of criminal activity from operating through online marketplaces; increase penalties on professional organized retail theft; make the law on organized retail theft permanent; and require courts to impose higher penalties on criminals who create fires in order to engage in retail theft. These higher penalties, however, would not impact the highly controversial Proposition 47 which many have blamed for California’s rising crime levels.  

“Californians want a justice system that works for everyone,” said Contra Costa County District Attorney Diana Becton. “We want solutions for both the fentanyl crisis and retail crime issue, both of which are taking a toll on our communities and families. And that’s what this legislative package intends to do—it is aimed at getting thoughtful, careful approaches to fentanyl in place, and also enacting measures that would help deter crime and strengthen our ability to prosecute brazen criminals who are harming businesses and eroding community safety.” 

While shoplifting in California saw a decrease during the COVID-19 pandemic, commercial burglary saw a sharp and sudden increase; from 2019 to 2022, commercial burglary increased by 15.7 percent. 

Learn more about how rising retail crime is affecting American cities here. 

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