Assembly Members Lackey and Wilk Introduce Bill to Fight Organized Crime and Protect Small Businesses

6-21-16 Assemblyman Scott Wilk - Press conference on proposed changes to Proposition 47.

SACRAMENTO – Assembly Members Tom Lackey (R-Palmdale) and Scott Wilk (R-Santa Clarita) today introduced legislation to protect small businesses from shoplifting syndicates that are exploiting the reduced sentences enacted by Proposition 47. The reforms in Assembly Bill 2287 would allow prosecutors to use conspiracy laws to go after organized shoplifters, and charge individual thieves with felonies if they steal more than $950 in a six month period.

“Voters hearts were in the right place when they approved Prop. 47,” said Lackey. “But criminal syndicates are taking advantage of a loophole it created. By cracking down on organized shoplifting rings, these reforms will protect small businesses that can’t afford to be victimized.”

When Prop. 47 reduced certain non-violent crimes from felonies to misdemeanors, career criminals quickly figured out that as long as they steal less than $950 of goods at a time, they are immune from felony prosecution. According to the California Retailers Association, retail theft has nearly doubled since Prop. 47 went into effect, and police in some areas are refusing to arrest shoplifters because they no longer face jail time.

“This is a common sense reform to fix an unintended consequence of Prop. 47 that is hurting businesses,” said Wilk. “By closing a loophole in this otherwise well-intentioned law, this measure will give prosecutors the tools they need to go after organized crime.” 

“It's clear law enforcement needs targeted tools to go after the criminals exploiting loopholes that allow them to evade accountability for their actions,” said Elk Grove Police Chief Robert Lehner.