by Photo courtesy of CHP

The California Highway Patrol Organized Crime Task Force (ORCTF)will be increasing its presence at shopping centers with local law enforcement agencies ahead of the busy holiday shopping season. 

This increased presence comes after Gov. Gavin Newsom signed Assembly Bill 331, penned by Assemblymember Reginald Byron Jones-Sawyer, Sr. (D-Los Angeles) to extend and expand the CHP’s ORCTF to address retail theft. 

“Californians deserve to feel safe especially as they head to stores this holiday season,” said Governor Newsom. “We’ve doubled down on our efforts to combat crime with millions of dollars to deter, arrest and successfully prosecute criminals involved in organized retail theft. This year, shopping centers across California will see saturated patrols as CHP regional teams work with local law enforcement agencies to help make arrests and recover stolen merchandise.”

Under AB 331, the governor’s office will invest $6 million annually in 2022-23 through 2024-25 and ongoing resources to provide a total of $15 million annually to expand and make the task force permanent.

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.

“The CHP is dedicated to ensuring everyone is safe during this holiday shopping season,” said Commissioner Amanda Ray. “Through the joint efforts of our Organized Retail Crime Task Force and public safety partners, we are working hard to combat organized retail crime and deter organized theft rings.”

In addition to expanding the ORCTF, Newsom’s office signed a pair of bills that will make selling stolen merchandise online more difficult. 

Senate Bill 301 authored by Sen. Nancy Skinner (D-Berkley)requires high-volume third-party merchandise sellers to provide additional information to protect consumers, including requiring online marketplaces to comply with specified recordkeeping and security procedures. Assemblymember Brian Maienschein (D-San Diego) wrote AB 1700, which 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 will take effect on Jan 1, 2023. 

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