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Retailers Backing Proposed Shoplifter Laws

Walmart, Target Donating to Prop 47 Amendment in California

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Walmart and Target are spearheading a financial push to amend a California law, Proposition 47, which they argue has contributed to a rise in retail theft, including smash-and-grab incidents.

Proposition 47, passed in 2014, was initially designed to reduce penalties for certain drug and property crimes to decrease incarceration rates and tackle racial disparities. However, retailers assert that it has inadvertently fueled an uptick in retail crime.

To counteract these perceived effects, the two retail giants are backing a proposed ballot measure aimed at toughening penalties for shoplifting. This initiative would grant prosecutors greater leeway to charge shoplifters as felons and mandate drug treatment under the threat of incarceration. Specifically, the measure proposes aggregating theft incidents to meet a $950 felony threshold and imposing harsher sentences for organized retail crime or theft exceeding $50,000.

Walmart has notably contributed $1 million, with Target donating $500,000 towards the campaign for this legislative change. Their involvement is part of a broader coalition that includes the California District Attorneys Association, a prison-guard union, and Macy's, among others.

This move comes amid reports from the National Retail Federation highlighting a significant rise in retail shrinkage, from $93.9 billion in 2021 to $112.1 billion in 2022, attributed largely to theft. Target's decision to close nine stores across four states, including California, citing uncontrollable shoplifting, underscores the urgency felt by retailers to address this issue.

Walmart's activism reflects a growing trend among retailers to seek legislative solutions to retail crime, amidst concerns that current laws may not adequately deter theft or protect businesses. This initiative is part of a wider dialogue on balancing criminal justice reform with the need to maintain security and profitability in the retail sector.

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