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Signs AB 331 extending the crime of organized theft and CHP's Organized Retail Crime Task Force
CHP to partner with local governments to deploy patrols and regional investigative teams
State's public safety efforts focus on supporting prevention, deterrence and enforcement
LONG BEACH – While visiting The Hangout, a Long Beach small business, Governor Gavin Newsom today signed legislation to improve the state's ability to stop organized retail theft. AB 331 by Assemblymember Reginald Byron Jones-Sawyer, Sr. (D-Los Angeles), extends the sunset date of the crime of organized retail theft, as well as the California Highway Patrol Organized Retail Crime Task Force, to January 1, 2026.
"Among the most basic needs for all Californians is to feel safe at home, at the park, or walking to school," said Governor Newsom. "As we pursue nation-leading criminal justice reforms – all with an eye to making our communities safer – a more holistic approach is called for. We must invest in public safety while, at the same time, tackling the root causes of these increases."
CHP's Organized Retail Crime Task Force strategically deploys regional teams of investigators who specialize in the investigation of organized retail crime and partners with local law enforcement agencies and district attorneys to identify and prosecute organized retail theft. Over the past three years, the Task Force has been a part of 668 investigations resulting in 252 arrests and the recovery of over $16.3 million in stolen merchandise.
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Governor Newsom signs legislation targeting retail theft alongside law enforcement leaders, legislators and Big 13 mayors.
The Retail Crime Task Force works collaboratively with local law enforcement agencies, as well as other crime task forces throughout the state, to deliver investigative leadership and support with the aim of reducing retail crime in California. Specifically, the Task Force will:
- Collaborate with allied law enforcement agencies and district attorneys to identify and prosecute organized theft rings, recover lost merchandise and reduce associated crime.
- Collaborate with the retail industry to reduce incidents of theft and strengthen locational safety for shoppers.
- Launch a web-based portal for the public and California retailers to report tips directly to the CHP.
- Continue to partner with allied agencies to offer specialized training and general law enforcement assistance related to auto theft and organized retail crimes.
In addition to the Task Force, the California Highway Patrol will proactively monitor crime trends using the best available real-time data, and in response, will strategically deploy patrols, regional investigative teams, multi-agency task forces (local and federal), state security program and K-9 officers.
Earlier today, Governor Newsom convened a roundtable discussion with California Highway Patrol Commissioner Amanda Ray, Big City mayors and police chiefs from around the state on local crime trends and efforts to protect public safety. Governor Newsom's recent investments and actions not only emphasize targeted community and social service investments, but also center on law enforcement efforts to deter and prevent would-be crimes while focusing on investigation and enforcement.
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Over the past three decades, crime rates in California have dropped dramatically. Prior to the pandemic, both California's violent crime rates and property rates were among the lowest ever recorded. Although crime rates have remained relatively steady, the latest data shows that we have experienced an increase in homicides and gun-related violence, mirroring a similar national trend.
Governor Newsom's recent public safety investments are focused on four key priorities to reduce gun violence and keep California's communities safe: 1) investing in local communities, 2) preventing crime before it happens, 3) investigating crimes that do occur and holding those responsible accountable and 4) getting guns off California streets.
The state is investing in supporting prevention, deterrence and enforcement. Recent actions include Governor Newsom's $12 billion homelessness plan with $3 billion allocated toward addressing the mental health crisis on local streets; a historic $200 million to expand the CalVIP program, which provides matching grants to community-based violence intervention efforts in communities impacted by group-related shootings and homicides; $4 billion for universal behavioral health for young people, along with an expansion of before and after-school programs and summer job opportunities; investigating crime and focusing on enforcement through new CHP partnerships to increase patrols; and making sure California's nation-leading gun laws – especially our Red Flag Law – get put to use to protect our communities from dangerous, violent people.
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