DAVIS (CBS13) — A gas-guzzling thief strikes again. The victim says cops know who he is, so why aren't they making an arrest?
This serial siphoner is the latest example of what businesses call "an epidemic of theft," and it all has to do with a change in California law.
Yet another business owner is shaking his head over what thieves are being allowed to do.
"The hoses are exposed, 'cause they are older vehicles and they just cut right through and put a siphon in there," said Dean Labadie.
Labadie owns Strelitzia Flower Co. He detailed thousands in damage to three delivery trucks. A serial siphoner struck again last Wednesday night.
"He was unabashed," said Labadie. Surveillance cameras captured the crime. You can see the thief's face, the license plate, even siphons & cans in the back of his van.
"They [police] were able to, from the license plate, pull up his picture on his driver's license and verify it was the guy. They know who he is," he said.
Labadie says he's been hit more than a dozen times in two to three years, but nobody has been caught because of a change in state law. Prop 47 increased the threshold for a felony from $450 to $950. The idea was to keep non-violent criminals out of prison, but Rachel Michelin with the California Retailers Association says it's had unintended consequences, causing a spike in retail theft by organized criminals who know anything under $950 is a misdemeanor.
"They are particularly targeting smaller retailers sometimes with a calculator getting right up to that 950 mark, walking out of the store in some cases waving at the camera as they go knowing nothing is going to happen to them," said Michelin.
CBS13 has reported while retail theft is up, arrest rates are down. Michelin says thieves return again and again, which has hurt the bottom line and become a safety issue.
"Because these crimes are becoming more and more brazen. We are seeing employees being accosted. We are seeing consumers getting hurt," said Michelin.
Labadie says his employees are concerned after last week. He says over the years he has had $8,000 in damages with very little covered by insurance.
"When that one happened (the van) they gave me $69, it was $1000 in damage," he said.
But it's a cost he won't deliver to his customers. "There's no way we can pass this along. We have to absorb it and hope people buy more flowers," he said.
Even though this floral shop says it won't raise prices because of their loss, plenty of business owners say they will, forcing all of us to dig a little deeper this upcoming holiday shopping season.
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