This isn’t the kind of alert we thought we’d be sending out days before Christmas, but BizFed leaders are ready to roll their sleeves up and mobilize on issues important to the business community whenever duty calls. It was a busy weekend of media requests following the recent wave of violent “smash-and-grab” robberies. Los Angeles and San Francisco have been hit particularly hard by groups of thieves, many wielding hammers and other heavy objects to smash windows and display cases holding valuables. Our retailers and small business owners have been through enough. It’s time for coordinated action to combat this violent crime spree.
BizFed is leading the broad business community in calling for tougher retail theft laws and proactive prosecution under existing laws.
We want to thank California Retailers President Rachel Michelin, who serves as co-chair of BizFed’s COVID-19 Economic Recovery Task Force, for speaking up about government’s “fundamental responsibility” to ensure public safety. During an extended one-on-one interview with Conan Nolan on NBC LA’s News Conference program, Rachel discussed how organized crime rings behind smash-and-grabs are taking advantage of lax prosecution and Prop 47, a California law that reclassifies some theft felonies as misdemeanors.
“We can’t let this continue. This isn’t the California I grew up in and it’s certainly not the California I want my children growing up in,” Rachel says.
Early this morning, I joined Carley Shimkus on Fox & Friends First to discuss Gov. Gavin Newsom’s newly unveiled $300 million plan to combat retail theft. I told her our massive network of more than 400,000 businesses appreciate the governor’s efforts to lean in with additional resources for law enforcement and prosecution, but I pointed to a contributing factor that funding alone will not solve.
“We have a problem here, especially in LA County, with our District Attorney George Gascón,” I explained on the live national program. “He’s not prosecuting! I have one BizFed member who’s had 100 thefts in the last month. Police have arrested the criminals but our DA has not prosecuted any of those 100 thefts.”
Our Senior Policy Manager Sarah Wiltfong is fielding daily calls from reporters seeking comment, sources, and background intel on smash-and-grabs. Southern California News Group reporter Olga Grigoryants interviewed her last week and published this excellent article on Friday to explore the broader impacts of the violent crime spree on our business environment and economic outlook. Olga’s piece humanizes the victims of unabated retail theft and quotes both Sarah and Rachel.
Many retailers and business owners have “almost given up because they don’t feel like anything is going to be done about it,” Sarah says.
Smash-and-grabs “could be the final straw that could make people reevaluate if they are going to continue operating in California,” Rachel adds.
Please amplify the voice of business by sharing with your members and on your social platforms!
BizFed Founding CEO