Bill Authorizing Funding to Combat Organized Retail Theft Heads to the Governor’s Desk

For immediate release:
  • Richard Garcia
  • 916-319-2059

(Sacramento – July 15, 2021) – Today, Assemblymember Jones-Sawyer’s (D–South Los Angeles) legislation on organized retail theft passed out of the Legislature with unanimous, bipartisan support in both the Assembly and Senate.

Assembly Bill (AB) 331, sponsored by the California Retailers Association (CRA), re-enacts the crime of organized retail theft and the operation of the California Highway Patrol property crimes task force until January 1, 2026.

“When the Legislature passed our organized retail theft bill in 2018, we crafted it to ensure we targeted sophisticated crime rings that took advantage of loopholes in state law as opposed to theft for personal use simply because someone was hungry," said Assemblymember Jones-Sawyer. “Since then, while we have taken great strides in recovering millions of dollars and busting large operations through the collaboration with law enforcement and the CHP property crimes task force, organized retail crime continues to be a pervasive problem throughout the state.”

“Organized retail crime hurts not only stores but our communities,” said Rachel Michelin, President of the California Retailers Association.  “ORC can result in store shutdowns or reductions in hours, meaning less public access to grocery, pharmacy, and other essentials.  It can threaten the safety of store employees and our customers.  Criminal enterprises have been known to use proceeds from ORC for other illegal activities like human trafficking and drug-running.  Local law enforcement and our stores need assistance and resources to shut down these criminal networks.  We appreciate Assemblymember Jones-Sawyer’s leadership in continuing the work of the Organized Retail Crime Task Force.”

In December 2020, the National Retail Federation (NRF) released their most recent Organized Retail Crime study and found that organized retail theft continues to be a problem with losses averaging $719,548 per every $1 billion in sales over the past year. This is the fifth year in a row since 2015 that losses resulted in over $700,000. Furthermore, among the top 10 cities affected by organized retail crime, three are in California with Los Angeles ranked first followed by San Francisco and Sacramento at fifth and tenth, respectively.

“Especially when we have seen businesses being forced to close in recent weeks, it is imperative we renew this legislation that continues to strike a balance between tackling this public safety problem and preserving progress we have made in the criminal justice space,” added Assemblymember Jones-Sawyer. “I would like to thank my colleagues for supporting this measure and allowing businesses and law enforcements to keep such vital tools that have been proven to be effective in stopping major theft rings across the state.”

AB 331 now makes its way to the Governor’s Desk. 

Assemblymember Reggie Jones-Sawyer represents the communities of South Los Angeles, Florence-Firestone, Walnut Park, Huntington Park, and Exposition Park. For more information about Assemblymember Jones-Sawyer, please visit https://a59.asmdc.org/