California Senate Passes Bill Preventing Employers from Requiring Staff to Stop Shoplifters

A security guard standing inside a commercial building nearby the window reflecting light.
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The California State Senate passed a bill last week that would prevent employers from requiring employees to intervene to stop shoplifting — a growing scourge in the state since the enactment of criminal justice reforms.

SB 553, introduced by Silicon Valley’s State Sen. Dave Cortese (D-Cupertino), is described as a bill to prevent and monitor “workplace violence.” But it also includes a provision that “every employer shall establish, implement, and maintain, at all times in all of the employer’s facilities, a workplace violence prevention plan for purposes of protecting employees and other personnel from aggressive and violent behavior at the workplace” that “shall include … [p]rovisions prohibiting the employer from maintaining policies that require employees to confront active shooters or suspected shoplifters.”

As San Francisco Bay Area Fox affiliate KTVU reported, retail associations are furious, believing that the bill will tell potential thieves that they can steal goods at will:

[O]ver 50 organizations, including the California Retailers Association, (CRA) don’t support the bill.

“This bill goes way too far, number one, where I think it will open the doors even wider for people to come in and steal from our stores.”

The CRA says if SB 553 becomes law, it will need to apply to all industries and not just retail. They also say most retailers already prohibit regular employees from approaching anyone about stolen merchandise and have some employees who are trained in theft prevention.

“It says no employee can approach someone who is shoplifting. So even if someone is trained on how to deter someone from doing that, now they’re not allowed to approach someone. So, what does that mean? We are opening up the door to allow people to walk into stores, steal and walk out,” Michelin said.

Retail theft has caused a growing number of major retailers to leave downtown San Francisco, and pharmacies in Los Angeles and other cities have begun placing ordinary household goods, such as toiletries, behind locked glass doors.

Some store employees have successfully confronted shoplifters. However, such confrontations can be deadly: a Home Depot employee in the state was fatally shot while trying to stop a shoplifter in April.

White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre, asked about the nationwide problem of retail theft on Wednesday, claimed that “unlike congressional Republicans,” President Joe Biden had taken action.

She referred to the president’s “American Rescue Plan” — widely blamed for triggering inflation in early 2021 — as having funded police, though the problem of retail theft has continued to skyrocket in the years since then.

Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News and the host of Breitbart News Sunday on Sirius XM Patriot on Sunday evenings from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. ET (4 p.m. to 7 p.m. PT). He is the author of the new biography, Rhoda: ‘Comrade Kadalie, You Are Out of Order’. He is also the author of the recent e-book, Neither Free nor Fair: The 2020 U.S. Presidential Election. He is a winner of the 2018 Robert Novak Journalism Alumni Fellowship. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.


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