SAN JOSE, Calif. – This week California legislators have introduced new Assembly bills in an effort to crack down on rampant retail theft. They’re seeking harsher penalties for such crimes, often classified as misdemeanors under California’s voter-approved proposition 47,
One, authored by Assemblymember Rudy Salas (D-Bakersfield) would lower the threshold for felony theft of goods to $400. Right now, it’s considered a misdemeanor for any amount up to $950 worth of stolen goods.
For the owner of Credit Jewelers, located at La Placita Tropicana shopping center in East San Jose, where thieves stole thousands of dollars worth of jewelry Monday, that proposal wouldn’t make much of a difference for protecting his business from theft.
“Most of the time they’re going to steal over $2,000, so I’m going to assume it’s a felony as it is,” he said.
Two other jewelry store owners who have businesses in the same building as Credit Jewelers’ were also robbed Monday by a group of thieves who walked in, armed with sledgehammers, and began breaking into jewelry cases, surveillance video shows. Three days have passed, and no arrests have been made.
“We need help from maybe the governor to help us,” Rocio Gomez, owner of Joyeria Guerrero said. Put some restrictions, catch these guys.”
Another bill, introduced Monday by Republican Assembly members Kevin Kiley, James Gallagher, and Jim Patterson aims to fully repeal the rules under Prop 47, which they say let criminals off the hook too easily.
Eric Orozco, the owner of Heart of Gold jewelry store, hit the hardest among the three that were robbed, worries under the current laws, more robberies will occur before the police make an arrest.
“The punishments are so soft, if they grab them too early before they do enough crime, they’re not going to get a harsh enough punishment,” Orozco said.
In the meantime, the three store owners, along with other shopkeepers in the 14-store building, are considering hiring armed security.
“We’re just watching the door, expecting something else to happen,” Gomez said. “We’re so scared.”