California Dem flips on party over smash and grab robbery epidemic

AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast

In 2014, California passed proposition 47, which made the theft of less than 950 dollars worth of merchandise only a misdemeanor. When combined with the state’s generous “bail reform” rules, this meant that anyone could walk into a store, grab nearly a thousand dollars worth of goods and bolt out of there. If they happened to somehow get caught, they would be back out on the street within hours to try again. In response, aspiring thieves accepted the invitation and began robbing retail outlets with abandon. Soon, organized groups figured out that if they entered a store in large numbers, one or two cops couldn’t stop them all even if they showed up promptly, so most of them would get away to sell their illicit merchandise. Now retail chains are moving out of the state because they can’t keep their shelves stocked and their insurance rates are too high for the stores to be profitable.

This has apparently reached the point where a straw has broken the camel’s back for one California Democrat. Assemblyman Rudy Salas has thrown in the towel and recognized that this crime wave can’t be allowed to continue. With that in mind, Salas introduced a new bill that would reverse proposition 47 and reset the threshold of misdemeanor theft to its previous level of $400. But will the rest of his party back him up? (Fox Business)

A Democratic California lawmaker introduced a bill that would reverse the state’s Proposition 47, which has been blamed for the rampant shoplifting and smash-and-grab crimes plaguing the state.

“Enough is enough, we need to fight back against the criminals who are stealing from our communities,” Democratic Assemblyman Rudy Salas said in a statement about the bill’s introduction Tuesday.

California’s Proposition 47 passed in 2014 and reduced shoplifting charges regarding the theft of $950 or less from felonies to misdemeanors. The new bill would lower the amount a suspect can steal before facing a felony to $400, which was the original threshold before Prop 47 passed.

I suppose we should give at least some credit to Assemblyman Salas for finally waking up and smelling the coffee, assuming all of the coffee wasn’t already stolen before he got to the store. But this encouraging news doesn’t mean that California’s troubles will shortly be in the rearview mirror. First of all, as I mentioned above, it’s far from a sure thing that enough Democrats will hop onboard with this measure to reverse the original proposition. Plenty of California Democrats are still buying into the entire “social justice” and “defund the police” movements and I somehow doubt that many of them are ready to admit that they royally screwed up on this process.

Even if plenty of Democrats do hop on the bandwagon, it could very well be far too late for this to work. The message has been sent out to California’s gangs and aspiring thieves for more than seven years now. Theft is not taken seriously and you can get away with it with little or no penalty being imposed on you. If they lower the felony threshold to $400, the thieves can simply start taking less merchandise on each trip and come back later for the rest. $400 in pure profit for each trip is still pretty good work if you can get it, right?

On top of that, California’s already overworked police are facing plenty of far more serious crimes with reduced ranks following the previous “defund the police” policies that were put in place. How quickly do you think they will be responding to smash and grab calls from the dispatchers? I somehow doubt that the gangs of looters are terribly worried.

California isn’t dealing with some random instances of bad behavior. The state is grappling with a cultural evolution of its own creation. People see that the government is afraid to take on rampant crime for fear of being labeled “racist” or out of step with the new, woke culture. They were invited to this smash and grab party by their own lawmakers and the party is still rolling. Reversing that cultural trend will be neither quick nor easy to accomplish. The word needs to spread on the streets that the cops are back in force and they’re going to be cracking some heads and locking people up for significant periods of time.

But the legislature can’t even make that happen on its own. As long as people like Chesa Boudin are in charge of who is or isn’t prosecuted and who will or won’t go to jail, the criminals will have little to fear. Again… we’re talking about a cultural shifting of the tides. California’s culture evolved to embrace criminal activity and the criminals responded in kind. Before their behavior changes, the culture in the state must return to enhanced respect for (and more importantly, a desire for) law and order. That means community support and assistance for law enforcement, not attacks on the police. When the vast majority reject lawlessness and support the police, fewer people will risk committing crimes. Is the majority of the public in California ready to make that sort of change? I wouldn’t bet you a plugged nickel on that.