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California Governor Unveils New Plan to ‘Aggressively Fight and Prevent’ Spiking Retail Crime

Governor Gavin Newsom introduced a new plan to fight and prevent crime in California as the state faces a spike in organized smash-and-grab thefts this holiday season.

Called the “Real Public Safety Plan,” the new legislation includes $255 million in grants for local law enforcement over the next three years in order to increase police presence at retail locations. District Attorneys will be getting an additional $30 million in grants for local prosecutors over three years, and the state will create a new gun buyback program.

There will also be a $20 million investment to support the National Guard’s drug interdiction efforts as well as $18 million allocated over three years for a dedicated state team of special investigators and prosecutors focusing specifically on organized theft crime rings.

“We’re doubling down on our public safety investments and partnerships with law enforcement officials up and down the state to ensure Californians and small businesses feel safe in their communities – a fundamental need we all share,” said Governor Newsom in a statement. “Through robust new investments and ongoing coordination with local agencies, this plan will bolster our prevention, deterrence and enforcement efforts to aggressively curb crime, hold bad actors to account and protect Californians from the devastating gun violence epidemic.”

The governor’s plan also includes a permanent Smash and Grab Enforcement Unit operated by the California Highway Patrol (CHP) which consists of enforcement fleets that will work with local law enforcement to crack down on organized retail, auto and rail theft in the Bay Area, Sacramento, San Joaquin Valley, Los Angeles and San Diego regions.

Newsom made the announcement on Friday alongside Attorney General Rob Bonta, CHP Commissioner Amanda Ray, and other state and local leaders in the Bay Area.

This plan comes as a string of high-profile flash mob thefts across the state have made national headlines. Just this weekend, Bay Area police arrested a 43-year-old woman suspected of interfering with an arrest, allowing a retail theft suspect to escape officers Saturday night at a Macy’s store in San Jose’s Oakridge Mall. More than $1,000 in stolen items were recovered and the store employee who was injured was treated for minor to moderate injuries by paramedics.

On Black Friday, there were six reported “smash-and-grab” thefts in the Los Angeles area. Police in Los Angeles were on a “city-wide tactical alert” due to these increased robberies. The alert followed a robbery at the Bottega Veneta store in the Melrose area, where an unknown number of items were reportedly taken by a large group of people.

And roughly 80 people were involved in a smash-and-grab theft earlier in November at the Nordstrom store at Broadway Plaza in Walnut Creek, California.

In July, the Governor took action to extend the CHP Organized Retail Crime Task Force, which coordinates with allied law enforcement agencies and District Attorneys to identify and prosecute organized theft rings, recover lost merchandise and collaborate with the retail industry to reduce theft and improve safety for shoppers. That effort has led to many arrests and prosecutions and the recovery of $20 million, Newsom said.

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