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Assemblymember Reggie Jones-Sawyer’s Organized Retail Theft Bill Passes Unopposed in California Assembly

For immediate release:

Sacramento, California – May 21st, 2024 – Assemblymember Reggie Jones-Sawyer (D-South Los Angeles) achieved a significant victory today as his Organized Retail Theft bill, Assembly Bill 1802, passed through the California Assembly with a final vote of 72-0. AB 1802 removes the sunset on the crime of organized retail theft and the California Highway Patrol (CHP) property crimes task force, making these tools permanently available to California law enforcement and prosecutors.

In 2018, the Legislature passed Assembly Bill 1065 (Jones-Sawyer) in response to concerns that Proposition 47 had weakened law enforcement’s ability to respond to theft and retail crime. AB 1065 created the crime of organized retail theft and established the CHP Organized Retail Theft Task Force, specifically targeting sophisticated crime rings that exploit loopholes in state law. Since its inception, the Organized Retail Theft Task Force has conducted 1,225 investigations, resulting in over 1,800 arrests and the recovery of nearly half a million stolen retail items valued at more than $21 million.

Despite this progress, many Californians continue to worry that retail theft continues to grow uncontrollably. AB 1065 allowed law enforcement to effectively dismantle large retail theft rings and disrupt organized retail theft at its source yet, 63% of California District Attorney’s Offices reported zero organized retail theft convictions last year. Some of the largest counties in the state, including Sacramento County, San Bernardino County, and Riverside County reported single digit organized retail theft felony convictions.

Assemblymember Jones-Sawyer responded by stating, “We’ve given law enforcement the tools to fight this, and when they use those tools they are successful. I cannot make law enforcement and prosecutors take advantage of the work I’ve done, but I can assure you that they are effective when they do.”

By making the crime of organized retail theft and the CHP Property Crimes Taskforce permanent, AB 1802 will ensure that law enforcement and prosecutors have the necessary means to fight back against the organized crime rings that continue to disrupt life in California. AB 1802 now moves to the California Senate for consideration.