DeSantis rips California, New York policies allegedly fueling retail theft in announcing new Florida crackdown

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis on Tuesday blasted California, New York and “many leftist jurisdictions” he says “are enacting policies that ignore retail theft or even encourage it,” while announcing new Florida legislation further cracking down on retail theft and porch piracy in the Sunshine State. “Those policies are dead on arrival in Florida. We catch criminals and prosecute them,” DeSantis wrote on X, following a news conference he hosted at a Walgreens in Stuart, Florida, where he signed legislation known as HB 549. The new law increases penalties for retail theft, porch piracy and inciting looting via social media. “You look at a place like California, they passed Proposition 47 that allows people that commit retail theft to be charged with misdemeanor, even if it had traditionally been a felony. That means they get numerous retail theft offenses. Did they get held accountable? No, they get a slap on the wrist,” DeSantis said. “You look at New York, they eliminated cash bail for many offenses, including offenses for retail theft, so that now you can only get a felony theft charge if you steal more than $1,000 worth of merchandise, anything less, you get a desk appearance ticket that has caused people to loot stores and do $999 worth of looting. And then they leave knowing that they’re not going to be held accountable.” In 2022 alone, the U.S. experienced $112 billion in retail theft, including $4 billion in New York that year, the governor said. New York City has seen shoplifting increase by 63%, DeSantis said, adding that it is up in Los Angeles by 81% and in San Francisco by 24%.  DESANTIS SIGNS BILLS TO PROTECT OFFICERS FROM FENTANYL EXPOSURE, RAISE AWARENESS FOR OPIOID EPIDEMIC”Now, that has an impact on you as a consumer because the prices will go up to reflect those stolen goods. That’s just basic business,” DeSantis said. “It also just has a demoralizing effect on people. When you go in and you want to buy toothpaste and it’s like Fort Knox because it’s all under lock and key for basic items. You got to get a clerk to come and open it and all this stuff just to do basic shopping. That is not something that is good for quality of life. And then, of course, if you can have people come in and just steal retail and walk out, that creates a contempt for the rule of law that has a spillover effect in areas far beyond retail theft.” By contrast, Florida has seen shoplifting decrease by 30% since DeSantis first took office, he said. “Nationwide, 88% of retailers have reported that shoplifters are more aggressive and violent now compared to just a few years ago, 49%. So they have observed much more violent and aggressive behavior. Why? Because I think these people come in and they have a sense of entitlement that they can take what they want and that they’re not going to be held accountable,” DeSantis explained. “And so I think the behavior has reflected that. You see stores closing down in different parts of the United States, whether that’s Target closing nine stores in Portland and Seattle, Walmart closing stores in Chicago, Nordstrom closing stores in San Francisco. That is a direct result of the lack of commitment to the rule of law and holding criminals accountable.” FLORIDA NO LONGER IN PLAY AS A SWING STATE AS GOP VOTERS SURGE OVER DEMS BY NEARLY 900K: DESANTISThe new law institutes a third-degree felony, punishable by up to five years in prison, if criminals commit retail theft with five or more individuals. It also enforces a second-degree felony, punishable up to 15 years in prison, if criminals commit retail theft with five or more individuals and use social media to solicit others to participate in the theft. Committing retail theft with a firearm or with two or more prior convictions of retail theft constitutes a first-degree felony charge, punishable by up to 30 years in prison. The law also grants the ability to charge a felony for multiple retail thefts occurring in the span of 120 days, which is an increase from 30 days. HB 549 also increases the punishments for porch piracy. Theft of property in an amount less than $40 is a first-degree misdemeanor. A subsequent violation is a third-degree felony, and theft of property valued at $40 or more is a third-degree felony.
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