Allen B. West

California reduces penalty for shoplifting; guess what happens NEXT…

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Just when you think California can’t possibly move any farther out into looney land, can’t possibly pass any laws more nonsensical, anti-family, anti-business, anti-sanity – the Golden State manages to do it again.

California has pushed through Proposition 47, a law which basically says it’s okay to steal so long as you don’t swipe stuff worth more than $950. Dubbed the “Safe Neighborhoods and Schools Act” which is akin to calling a law legalizing speeding in school zones the “Keeping Kids Safer on Sidewalks Act.”

Prop 47 made it onto the November 2014 ballot in California via a well-funded (by George Soros) marketing campaign centering around themes of “It’s time to stop wasting taxpayer dollars locking up low-level offenders.” Which makes some sense since California is so broke it can’t pay all of the guards in its prison system and so began letting felons out. Proposition 47 changed six nonviolent offenses from felony punishments that can carry prison time to misdemeanor or “petty” offenses.

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One of those “petty nonviolent offenses” is shoplifting. And since the passing of Prop 47 guess what’s happened? Shoplifting statistics have gone through the roof. Law enforcement and small business owners are not pleased.

Perry Lutz, a business owner in Rocklin, CA, says his struggles as a small businessman have been added to since theft penalties were reduced. Mr. Lutz was a part of this report filed by Fox News: “About a half-dozen times this year, shoplifters have stolen expensive drones or another of the remote-controlled toys he sells in HobbyTown USA, a small shop in Rocklin, northeast of Sacramento. “It’s just pretty much open season. They’ll pick the $800 unit and just grab it and run out the door.”

Per California’s new law anything stolen that has a value of less than $950 keeps the crime a misdemeanor. Kind of like J-walking or an expired parking meter. Take away the disincentives to steal and what do thieves do? They steal.

Large retailers including Safeway, Target, Rite Aid and CVS pharmacies say shoplifting has increased at least 15 percent and in some cases doubled since voters approved Prop 47.

Shoplifting reports to the Los Angeles Police Department jumped by a quarter in the first year according to statistics the LAPD compiled for The Associated Press. The ballot measure also lowered penalties for forgery, fraud, petty theft and drug possession.

So,….caught in possession of drugs? That’s a misdemeanor citation under Prop 47, basically — a ticket. Caught stealing something worth less than $950? That’s a ticket, too. Caught using some of that $950 in stolen goods to purchase illegal drugs? Another citation.

“It’s a slap on the wrist the first time and the third time and the 30th time, so it’s a virtual get-out-of-jail-free card,” said Shelley Zimmerman, San Diego’s Chief of Police, “We’re catching and releasing the same people over and over.”

A thief in San Bernardino County was caught shoplifting with his calculator, which he said he used to make sure he never stole the equivalent of $950 or more. The case of “the Hoover Heister” made local news in Riverside where a man was arrested for stealing vacuum cleaners and other appliances 13 different times over the course of three months, each misdemeanor charge followed by his quick release – and return to the mall.

A Washington Post story details portions of a case concerning a gentleman named “Radenberg” as “the ideal example of a Proposition 47 case” to abandon felony sentencing “because Rabenberg had no history of violence.”

Weeks after being released because of Prop 47 Radenberg was caught breaking the law (again):
He was arrested for possession of meth on Jan. 2 and released from jail Jan. 3.
He was arrested for having drug paraphernalia on Feb. 6 and issued a citation.
He was arrested again for having drugs on Feb. 19.
And again on March 1.
And again on March 8.
And again on April 1.

Proposition 47 is a disaster for communities, local law enforcement and prosecutors. When a man, released from prison because a prior felony conviction was reduced to a misdemeanor under Prop 47 was arrested last week for allegedly stealing a cash box from a Yuba City restaurant, a local prosecutor critical of Prop 47 said the defendant is an example of a reoffending criminal who shouldn’t be out of custody.

“This just goes to show you what a disaster Proposition 47 is for our community,” said Sutter County District Attorney Amanda Hopper, “Prop 47 has really tied our hands and put violent criminals back on the street. Mr. Willis is just one example of these violent criminals returning to our community and re-offending.”

A man known to local law enforcement as a gang member near Palm Springs was caught with a stolen gun valued at $625. According to the police report when the arresting officer explained that he would not be taken to jail but instead written a citation he reacted, “But I had a gun. What is wrong with this country?”

What is wrong with it, indeed.

[Note: This article was written by Derrick Wilburn]

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