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Gov. Gavin Newsom, California Highway Patrol Announce 167% Increase In Retail Theft Arrests

525% increase in stolen goods recovered when compared to the same time last year also announced

By Evan Symon, June 18, 2024 12:54 pm

Governor Gavin Newsom announced on Tuesday that the California Highway Patrol’s (CHP) Organized Retail Crime Taskforce (ORCTF) has made 636 arrests and recovered 216,754 stolen goods valued at nearly $5.7 million since January when tackling retail theft, with increased efforts resulting in a 167% increase in arrests and a 525% rise in stolen goods recovered when compared to the same time period from last year.

Since the beginning of the decade, organized retail theft has gone up dramatically throughout California. Nationally, events such as the San Francisco Union Square robberies in 2021 and the spate of LA-based smash and grab flash mob robberies in early 2023 have made major headlines.

With flash mob and large scale robberies always seeing a peak during the Christmas shopping season, the Governor’s office and the CHP announced in November 2023 that the Real Public Safety Plan will send more CHP officers and other law enforcement to retail areas across the state to help deter those kinds of robberies. Specifically, the ORCTF, in conjunction with local law enforcement,  sought out retail areas with higher risk and monitored those areas closely.

The greater “holiday blitz” efforts in November and December 2023, as well as ramped up operation efforts though the year, showed results, with Governor Newsom and the CHP highlighting not only an increase of operations, but more overall arrests. According to the CHP, 215 retail theft operations were conducted in California in the first 11 months of 2023, a 313% increase from only 52 in 2022. Investigations went up by 52%, going from 358 last year to 528 this year, with the number of arrests similarly going up by 109% from 482 to 1,005. The number of stolen items also went up by 25%, from 148,891 to 187,515.

While the ORCTF has existed since 2019, Newsom has only thrown significantly more money and resources to them in the last few years as the issue began to make national and even international news. This increased funding, as well as an annual 310% increase in CHP proactive operations going after retail crimes, resulted in even more arrests and stolen goods recovery in the first 5 months of 2024. According to Newsom and the CHP, they have made 636 arrests and recovered 216,754 stolen goods, valued at nearly $5.7 million, in the last five months. Compared to the same period last year, arrests are up 167%, recovered stolen goods rose 525%, with their estimated value up 140%.

“Month after month, California is seeing the results of taking down organized retail crime in communities statewide,” said Governor Newsom on Tuesday. “Our collaboration with local partners allows us to continue taking back stolen items and holding those accountable for this unacceptable crime.”

CHP Commissioner Sean Duryee added that “Through increased enforcement efforts and strategic partnerships, our dedicated investigators continue to achieve remarkable success in combating organized retail crime in California. The significant increase in arrests and recovery of stolen merchandise underscores our unwavering commitment to protecting our communities and supporting businesses.”

However, while an increase of arrests and stolen goods are good, experts cautioned that Newsom’s increased efforts are occurring during an election year and are only combatting problems that were created by cuts to police funding earlier in the decade and state laws that lessened the consequences for criminals in the past several years, such as Prop 47.

“Ok, so good news on these numbers first. The CHP should really be getting the praise here for this,” said former Bay Area law enforcement officer and security consultant Frank Ma to the Globe on Tuesday. “This is still a small part of the overall retail theft problem in the state, but we are getting better results from them and a lot of rings are being broken up because of them. So an honestly good job there.

“But, with Newsom and many lawmakers around him in California, this big bump in CHP funding and support is only there because police cuts and laws where criminals aren’t even getting in serious trouble unless the theft is above $950, amongst many others. You’re right. They are only solving the problems they created with this. So they can say there are more arrests and more recovered goods, which again, is a good thing. But there is a reason why the numbers are so high and a reason why we even need the task force and the CHP to even focus on this in the first place. Don’t forget that.

“Newsom conveniently didn’t say why retail thefts were so high in his press release I take it.”

Second half of the year figures for the CHP and ORCTF are due to come late in 2024.

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Evan Symon
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3 thoughts on “Gov. Gavin Newsom, California Highway Patrol Announce 167% Increase In Retail Theft Arrests

  1. Don’t you love the dysfunction of California?
    I am thankful to the CHP but come on, this is nothing to brag about!
    The defund the police b.s. and props 47 and 57 have decimated law and order. Now we are supposed to be thrilled that they have taken CHP officers away from their intended jobs to bust up retail theft.
    Election Year smoke and mirrors…

  2. “Look at me – I’m tough on crime!”
    I can picture a TV commercial for his presidential and/or US Senate campaign with him chatting with a police officer, patrol car in the background with lights flashing, and yellow “Do Not Cross” tape surrounding the crime scene, as if elected officials typically respond to crimes.

  3. Now why did Newsom task the CHP with taking down organized retail crime? Shouldn’t that be done by local police and sheriff departments? There has to be an ulterior motive considering how evil Newsom and the deep state behind him are? Is Newsom pretending that he’s tuff on crime and trying to do something…or maybe this is the first step in instituting a state police force (aka gestapo) and getting California citizens used to the idea?

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