CSAC Bulletin Article

California Increases Efforts to Combat Organized Retail Theft Ahead of Busy Holiday Shopping Season

December 1, 2022

Recently, Governor Gavin Newsom increased efforts statewide to tackle organized retail theft ahead of the holiday shopping season. The California Highway Patrol (CHP) Organized Retail Crime Task Force (ORCTF) is increasing their presence at shopping centers throughout the state and working with local law enforcement agencies to make arrests and heighten visibility. 

Governor Newsom signed Assembly Bill 331 (Jones-Sawyer, Sr.) to extend and expand the ORCTF. The regional teams collaborate with local law enforcement agencies and retailers to proactively address organized retail theft. Since the inception of the task force, the CHP has been involved in 1,296 investigations, the arrest of 645 suspects, and the recovery of 271,697 items of stolen retail merchandise valued at nearly $26 million.

Additionally, the Governor prioritized the below funding to combat organized retail theft:

  • Extending the ORCTF sunset provision and investing $6 million annually in 2022-23 through 2024-25 and ongoing resources to provide a total of $15 million annually to expand and make permanent this task force.
  • Investing $255 million in grants for local law enforcement over the next three years to combat retail theft.
  • Providing $30 million over the next three years to support District Attorneys, effectively prosecuting theft-related crimes.
  • Funding the creation of a new unit, in the Attorney General’s office, with specialized investigators and prosecutors focused specifically on organized theft rings.

In addition to law enforcement investigating retail theft, legislation signed this year by the Governor will make it harder for individuals to sell stolen merchandise online.

  • SB 301 (Skinner) requires high-volume third-party sellers of merchandise to provide additional information to protect consumers, to include requiring online marketplaces to comply with specified recordkeeping and security procedures.
  • AB 1700 (Maienschein) requires the Attorney General’s Office to establish on its website a place for the public to report suspected stolen goods found on online marketplaces. 

Both bills take effect on January 1, 2023. 

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