California governor seeks more than $300 million to combat smash-and-grabs
Stung by recent headline-grabbing smash-and-grab robberies, California Governor Gavin Newsom said Friday he will seek more than $300 million in state funding over three years to boost law enforcement efforts to combat retail theft.
"The issue of crime and violence is top of mind all throughout not only the state of California but across the United States, highlighted recently by some high-profile retail theft operations," Newsom said.
He added that "these organized retail mobs ... (have) a profound impact on our feelings of safety here in this state, this region and as I note, this country."
Newsom proposed giving $255 million in grants to local law enforcement agencies to put more police at stores to deter organized retail crime over the next three years.
An additional $30 million over three years in the proposed budget he sends to lawmakers next month would go to county district attorneys to support prosecutions of retail and auto theft-related crimes.
Another $18 million over three years would go to create a new "organized theft special unit" under the state attorney general, with investigators and prosecutors dedicated to pursuing organized crime ringleaders.
Retailers in California and in cities elsewhere around the U.S., including Chicago and Minneapolis, have recently been victimized by large-scale thefts when groups of people show up in groups for mass shoplifting events or to enter stores and smash and grab from display cases.
Solo shoplifters and retail thieves have also been a growing problem for California retailers, who have said the criminals face little if any consequences after they are caught.
Earlier this month, Newsom criticized local prosecutors for not doing enough to crack down on the criminals by using existing state laws.
He defended a voter-approved 2014 initiative that reduced certain thefts from felonies to misdemeanors, though prosecutors said it left them without enough legal tools.
Newsom on Friday proposed another $20 million to aid small businesses victimized by smash-and-grab robberies.
He also plans to turn an existing retail theft task force into a permanent "smash and grab enforcement unit."
for more features.