Governor Newsom Calls for Legislation Cracking Down on Property Crime


WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW: Governor Newsom is calling for the creation of new laws to crack down on professional thieves — expanding criminal penalties to hold criminals accountable and bolstering police and prosecutor tools to combat theft and take down suspects who profit from smash and grabs, retail theft, and car burglaries.

SACRAMENTO — Building on partnerships with law enforcement and the Legislature, successful efforts to fight crime, and record-level investments to strengthen public safety, Governor Gavin Newsom today called for new legislation expanding criminal penalties, bolstering police and prosecutor tools to combat theft and take down professional criminals who profit from smash and grabs, retail theft, and car burglaries.

The Governor’s legislative framework calls for the creation of new laws and expanding criminal penalties to crack down on professional thieves — those who profit from stealing goods for resale — bolstering law enforcement’s ability to arrest suspects, creating a new crime addressing organized auto burglary committed to resell stolen property, eliminating the sunset provision for the organized retail crime statute, and exploring increased penalties for high-volume resellers of stolen goods.

WHAT GOVERNOR NEWSOM SAID: “Building on California’s existing laws and record public safety investments, I’m calling for new legislation to expand criminal penalties for those profiting on retail theft and auto burglaries. These laws will make California safer and bolster police and prosecutor tools to arrest and hold professional criminals accountable.”

Proposals within the framework include:

1) CRACKING DOWN ON PROFESSIONAL THIEVES: Creates new penalties targeting those engaged in retail theft to resell, and those that resell the stolen property — increasing felony penalties and prison time.

2) INCREASING ENFORCEMENT TOOLS: Bolsters existing law to ensure police can arrest suspects of retail theft, even if they didn’t witness a crime in progress.

3) AGGREGATING THEFT AMOUNTS: Clarifies that the penal code allows law enforcement to combine the value of multiple thefts — even across different victims — to reach the threshold for grand theft.

4) FIGHTING AUTO BURGLARY: Creates new penalties for professional auto burglary, increasing penalties for the possession of items stolen from a vehicle with intent to resell, regardless of whether the vehicle was locked.

5) ELIMINATING ORC SUNSET PROVISION: Eliminates the sunset date for the organized retail crime statute. The law, which has been effectively used by CHP and others in the Organized Retail Crime Task Force, is set to expire on January 1, 2026.

6) INCREASING PENALTIES FOR RESELLERS: Explores strengthening the law to increase penalties for large-scale resellers of stolen goods.

Today’s announcement builds on the Governor’s Real Public Safety Plan – which focuses on strengthening local law enforcement response, ensuring perpetrators are held accountable, and getting guns and drugs off our streets. In 2023, the Governor announced the largest-ever investment to combat organized retail crime in California history, an annual 310% increase in proactive operations targeting organized retail crime, and special operations across the state to fight crime and improve public safety. Since 2019, the state has invested $1.1 billion to fight crime and improve public safety.

California law provides existing robust tools for law enforcement and prosecutors to arrest and charge suspects involved in organized retail crime — including up to three years of jail time for organized retail theft. The state has the 10th lowest threshold nationally for prosecutors to charge suspects with a felony, $950. 40 other states — including Texas ($2,500), Alabama ($1,500), and Mississippi ($1,000) — require higher dollar amounts for suspects to be charged with a felony.


Early response to Governor Newsom’s legislative framework

President of the California State Sheriffs’ Association Tulare County Sheriff Mike Boudreaux: “California is safer when law enforcement and prosecutors have more tools to arrest suspects and hold them accountable. This framework will close loopholes criminals have exploited and increase felony penalties for smash and grabs, retail theft, and auto burglaries. I look forward to working with the Governor and the Legislature to get this done.”

California Attorney General Rob Bonta: “Organized retail theft is a serious crime that not only costs businesses, retailers, and consumers, but puts workers and the public at risk. The California Department of Justice is committed to tackling these crimes head-on. We appreciate the Governor’s leadership, and will continue working with his office and our legislative partners to eradicate organized retail crime.”

Senate Public Safety Chair Senator Aisha Wahab: “While we must always create pathways for restorative justice and redemption, we must also hold people accountable as they violate the rights of others. With the epidemic of retail theft and robberies in our communities, we must provide prosecutors the necessary tools to address a plague of lawlessness that is threatening of our very way of life. . .”

Assembly Public Safety Chair Assemblymember Kevin McCarty: “As the Assembly continues our work on crafting balanced and common-sense policies to fight retail theft, we thank Governor Newsom for his engagement and for bringing solutions to the table. We look forward to partnering with the Governor on this issue that is front-of-mind for so many Californians.”

Chair of the Assembly Select Committee on Retail Theft Assemblymember Rick Chavez Zbur: “I applaud Governor Newsom for prioritizing the fight against retail theft with his release of a strong legislative package… I am confident that together, we will meet this moment with new approaches that are effective and protect our neighborhoods and hold professional criminals and repeat offenders accountable. . .”

San Francisco District Attorney Brooke Jenkins: “. . .Governor Newsom’s proposed theft crimes legislative package will make our communities and businesses safer.  This vitally needed package of reforms will empower law enforcement and prosecutors to be able to hold prolific thieves accountable and ensure that there are consequences for those who brazenly flaunt our laws. . .”

President of Alliance for Safety and Justice Lenore Anderson: “Governor Newsom has consistently shown strong leadership that fights crime and empowers victims — addressing shifts in crime trends through smart policy and investments while also growing solutions that can prevent crime from happening in the first place. This is another example of that.”