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California Referendum Has Led To More Shoplifting, Report Says

Five years ago, California passed Proposition 47, a referendum that reduced various theft and drug possession crimes from felonies to misdemeanors.

But in the years since the referendum passed, critics say the law has resulted in an increase of theft. Fox News reported that the referendum “effectively gives shoplifters and addicts the green light to commit crimes as long as the merchandise they steal or the drugs they take are less than $950 in value.”

“The decision to downgrade theft of property valued below the arbitrary figure from felony to misdemeanor, together with selective enforcement that focuses on more ‘serious’ crimes, has resulted in thieves knowing they can brazenly shoplift and merchants knowing the police will not respond to their complaints, say critics,” the outlet reported.

One woman who spoke to Fox, Cassie, said she sometimes shoplifted diapers and formula for her children.

“If my babies need diapers or formula, who is going to get that for me? No one. I have to do it,” she told the outlet. “They ain’t out here arresting people for [shoplifting] and everyone knows it.”

The referendum has led to an increase in theft in the Golden State, with thieves brazenly stealing items in broad daylight. San Francisco now has the highest rate of property crime in the United States. Even worse, the shoplifting is not done solely by moms like Cassie, but by well-organized rackets. From Fox:

Del Seymour, founder of the non-profit Code Tenderloin, told Fox News that fencers – often from Mexico and Guatemala – set up shop in the middle of the day and night around the city’s United Nations Plaza area. He said he’s also noticed that the stealers and dealers have gotten bolder by the day. The retail heists taking place, he said, aren’t some small-time operation but instead a sophisticated network of international dealers who cross the border to buy stolen goods. What’s worse is that a majority of the handoffs happen in view of San Francisco’s City Hall.

“Of course it sends a message,” Seymour said. “They’re doing it right here in the open.”

San Francisco isn’t the only city in the state struggling with increased theft. Business owners across the state have told various local media outlets that shoplifting has increased since prop 47 went into effect. Jassi Dhillon, who owns six 7-Eleven franchises, told NBC7 that shoplifters are hitting all six of his stores “every day, hour by hour.”

He added that, when he calls the cops on shoplifters, they have either already fled or don’t seem to care about the citation they receive.

“It’s becoming a lifestyle for us now because we can’t do anything much except take the loss,” Dhillon said.

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