VACAVILLE (CBS13) — You’ve likely seen the videos on social media or the local news: groups of people rushing into a store, grabbing armfuls of merchandise. The brazen crimes are on the rise and CBS13 has learned, in most cases, the crooks get away from authorities.
After searching police reports and arrest records, CBS13 found that while the rate of these grab and dash crimes is on the rise, the rate of arrest is down. We turned to law enforcement and the retail industry for answers. Both blame a California law intended to make “neighborhoods safe.”
“It’s a boldness like we’re seeing never before and just a disregard for fellow human beings,” said Lieutenant Mark Donaldson, Vacaville PD.
He explained these crimes have evolved into more than just shoplifting. It’s organized retail theft and he says it’s happening across the state. Cities like Vacaville, with outlets and shopping centers located near major freeways, tend to be a target for these organized retail crime rings.
According to police data obtained by CBS13, there have been 746 reported retail thefts in Vacaville alone over the past year. More than half of those suspects got away.
Police say these suspects often target stores with easy access to get-away cars and with easy access on and off major freeways because crooks know most department policies won’t risk the dangers of a high-speed chase over a misdemeanor citation.
“They know the law,” Donaldson said. “One of the first things they ask us [is] ‘Can’t I just get a ticket so I can be on my way?’”
He explained many suspects know theft under $950 is now a misdemeanor, meaning most get a written citation, a court date and are released.
Donaldson and the California Police Chief’s Association attribute the growing problem to Prop 47.
”I think if you would ask most in law enforcement, [it] has had a significant impact on why we’re experiencing this,” Donaldson said.
Prop 47, known as the Safe Neighborhoods and Schools Act, passed in 2014. It was intended to keep non-violent criminals out of crowded prisons. And, among other things, the law more than doubled the amount a suspect could steal before facing a felony from $450 to $950.
Read the rest at: Prop 47