In 2014, California voters approved Proposition 47 — a ballot referendum that downgraded certain theft-related crimes under $950 to misdemeanors that are often not even investigated, let alone prosecuted. Now, nearly ten years later, one California Democrat lawmaker who supported the law is admitting that it was a “big mistake” as the state faces skyrocketing retail theft.
Smash-and-grab robbers hit Macy’s at the Santa Anita Mall in California on Tuesday. This should not be normal.
— Ian Miles Cheong (@stillgray) August 23, 2023
San Mateo County Supervisor David Canepa was in favor of Proposition 47 when it was proposed. The ballot referendum, which passed with nearly 60% approval, downgraded nonviolent felony crimes — such as shoplifting, grand theft, receiving stolen property, forgery, fraud, and writing bad checks — to misdemeanor crimes if the value of the stolen items or fraud is less than $950.
During a press conference on Tuesday, Canepa admitted that his support for Prop 47 was a “mistake.”
“I thought it was a good idea at the time because I thought [that] we need to give people an opportunity, we need to give people a chance,” he said.
“I made a mistake, it was a big mistake, and you have to acknowledge your mistake,” Canepa admitted. “By doing this, what we’ve done is we’re letting people take thousands and thousands of dollars. And why should people be subjugated?”
Canepa plans to propose creating a law enforcement task force to fight organized retail theft during the upcoming board of supervisors meeting later this month.
California has faced skyrocketing retail theft, especially in San Francisco and Los Angeles. The problem has gotten so bad that many stores have fled the area, including Nordstrom’s flagship store that closed last month.
Nordstrom officially leaves the crime-infested hellhole of San Francisco pic.twitter.com/BU9EyDTPXA
— Libby Emmons (@libbyemmons) August 28, 2023
Across the U.S. in 2022, retail theft cost businesses nearly $100 billion in lost revenue. In San Mateo, shoplifting skyrocketed “60% higher than the pre-pandemic average” in 2022, according to KGO-TV.
“Enough is enough! All this retail theft, all this sort of crime. Enough is enough,” Canepa declared. “We really need to look at state laws. What we have in place right now is not working.”
Those who initially supported Prop 47 claimed that it would lower incarceration rates for nonviolent offenders and help fight overcrowding in California’s prisons. However, the law has actually caused more problems than it has solved — including skyrocketing rates of retail theft that the state has been unable to deal with. Businesses in the state have even been forced to implement extreme security measures in response to the rise in crime, such as locking up all products behind plexiglass or hiring outside security guards.