The Misdemeanor of Daylight Looting in California

On November 4, 2014 nearly sixty percent of over 7.5 million California voters cast ballots in favor of Proposition 47: The Safe Neighborhoods and Schools Act. According to The Judicial Branch of California, the act “reclassified certain theft and drug possession offenses from felonies to misdemeanors.” Among the changes brought on by the proposition was the creation of a new misdemeanor offense called “shoplifting.” A defendant guilty of shoplifting could spend up to six months in county jail if the value of the property stolen does not exceed 950 dollars. The act also softened penalties for forgery, petty theft, and receiving stolen property.

T J Maxx, a chain of American discount department stores, had one of its outlets in Granada Hills, California looted during daylight by two unabashed thieves. The event occurred on Monday, July 19th and was captured on video. The two men both carried armfuls of clothing and other items and exited the store without being challenged or questioned by store personnel or security officers.

Daylight looting is a California-wide problem often attributed by store owners and law enforcement to 2014’s proposition. Some sources identify San Francisco as the “epicenter of organized retail crime in the country.” At a board of supervisors hearing in May 2021, Walgreens’ drug store representatives revealed that their San Francisco stores experienced thefts four times the chain’s national average. As a result, Walgreens closed 17 stores in San Francisco.

On July 21, California’s Governor Newsom signed AB 331, a law which aims to “improve the state’s ability to stop organized retail theft.” Cynics see this as Newsom’s attempt to paint himself a law-and-order candidate in the September 14, 2021 California Gubernatorial Recall Election which as of this writing has 46 candidates.


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Written by Bascott O'Connor

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