Asm. Reggie Jones-Sawyer sponsored the legislation to extend the sunset date of the crime of organized retail theft
Assemblymember Reginald Jones-Sawyer holds AB 331 that Gov. Gavin Newsom signed on July 21.  (AP)

Governor Gavin Newsom called up Assemblymember Reginald Jones-Sawyer (D-Los Angeles) as Newsom signed into law AB 331 to help the state apply resources to reduce crime and stop organized retail theft.


The signing took place July 21 at The Hangout, a small business in Long Beach. Jones-Sawyer sponsored the legislation to extend the sunset date to January 1, 2026 of the crime of organized retail theft and the California Highway Patrol Organized Retail Crime Task Force.


Among the African American law enforcement members attending the event were CHP Commissioner Amanda Ray and San Francisco Chief of Police William Scott.  Also on hand were mayors of the state’s 13 largest cities including L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti, Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia and Santa Ana Mayor Vicente Sarmiento along with L.A. Police Chief Michel Moore and several other top police executives.


“Among the most basic needs for all Californians is to feel safe at home, at the park, or walking to school,” Newsom said. “As we pursue nation-leading criminal justice reforms – all with an eye to making our communities safer – a more holistic approach is called for. We must invest in public safety while, at the same time, tackling the root causes of these increases.”


Explaining why he spearheaded the bill, Jones-Sawyer said, “When this first came out with Gov. Jerry Brown, we were really talking about how do we deal with retail theft in a smart way. Number one, we wanted to make sure we went after the organized retail theft felons who were victimizing, not only the people they got involved in this, but also victimizing our retail businesses.


“We also wanted to make sure that we had a heart and that individuals who were homeless or on drugs  would be able to get services. So, I want to thank this governor for putting in billions of dollars to make sure those individuals can move into services like drug rehab, education and employment and permanently get out of organized retail theft,” he said.


“That’s the ultimate goal here – both philosophies coming together to cure a problem that’s plaguing California right now.  It’s so important that we continue this work that the CHP has been doing successfully for the last few years,” added Jones-Sawyer.


Commissioner Ray said that in the last three years, the CHP Task Force participated in 668 investigations resulting in 252 arrests and the recovery of over $16.3 billion in stolen merchandise. AB 331 will allow the task force to continue its efforts to reduce retail crime with the following actions:


  • Collaborate with allied law enforcement agencies and district attorneys to identify and prosecute organized theft rings, recover lost merchandise and reduce associated crime.
  • Collaborate with the retail industry to reduce incidents of theft and strengthen locational safety for shoppers.
  • Launch a web-based portal for the public and California retailers to report tips directly to the CHP.
  • Continue to partner with allied agencies to offer specialized training and general law enforcement assistance related to auto theft and organized retail crimes.