California lawmakers mull new law to prevent retail theft

The Los Angeles Police Department has arrested eight people in connection to an organized retail theft ring, including six minors, three of whom are between the ages of 11 and 15 and accused of peddling the stolen goods.

Authorities alleged that the group regularly shoplifted from stores and then traded or sold what they took along the Alvarado Corridor, located outside downtown Los Angeles.

A security guard stands outside the Nordstrom store at The Grove retail and entertainment complex in Los Angeles, on Nov. 23, 2021. (AP Photo/Eugene Garcia)

A 14-year-old and 15-year-old were referred to the Los Angeles County Juvenile Diversion Program, while the 11-year-old was released to her parents, according to the Los Angeles Police Department.

One suspect, identified as Yoselin Quintanilla, 31, was booked after receiving stolen property. Another adult, whose name was withheld for unknown reasons, was arrested with a no-bail parole violation warrant.

The bust resulted in $4,600 worth of stolen merchandise, including clothing, shoes, and household products. The stolen items were returned to the retailer.

News of the arrests, and the ages of those involved in the criminal activity, comes as a bipartisan effort to deter retail theft makes its way through the state legislature. The bill, introduced by Democratic Assemblywoman Wendy Carrillo, would make it easier for police officers to arrest suspected shoplifters.

“Right now, there’s no fear, right?” Carrillo said. “It’s like we can steal, we can commit these petty misdemeanor crimes, but it’s cite and release and there’s no record.”

Carrillo believes the Secured Transactions and Organized Theft Prevention Act would scare shoplifters by increasing the likelihood of a low-level arrest.

“This is just going back to traditionally what we used to have, which was book-and-arrest, so you’ll have a record,” Carrillo said.

Even though the bill has generated bipartisan support, it has caused some friction among some in her own party.

Assemblywoman Tina McKinnor opposes the bill, based on inequities in law enforcement.

McKinnor, a fellow progressive caucus member, posted on X that the legislation is “bad for black and brown folks.” She added that it would also promote mass incarceration.

“We need our law enforcement partners to enforce the laws on the books, not discourage retailers from asking for help,” she said.

A 2019 report from the Public Policy Institute of California found that black people in nearly all California counties have higher arrest rates than white people and that misdemeanors have increased as a share of all arrests.


Carrillo, however, claimed her bill would be committed to “fairness, equity, and the protection of all individuals’ rights, regardless of race or background.”

She added that her colleague hasn’t met with her to talk about her bill but that she is “always open” to discussing policy, adding, “I don’t legislate via social media.”

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