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Policy-making should be based on facts and evidence, not false perceptions or political motivations. Proposals to increase penalties for shoplifting fail this test.

In California, shoplifting is a misdemeanor that applies when the value of goods taken is $950 or less. Retail theft that exceeds $950 may be charged as a misdemeanor or a felony. This standard was created by Proposition 47, a reform measure passed by voters in November 2014, and is one of the toughest in the country. For example, in Texas, a felony charge isn’t triggered until the value of stolen goods reaches $2,500 — much higher than in California.

Shoplifting remains well below pre-pandemic levels despite a recent rise. The shoplifting rate — the number of shoplifting crimes per 100,000 Californians — was 210 in 2022, the most recent statewide data available. This is down by 17% from 2014, the year that Prop. 47 took effect.

Policymakers should avoid resurrecting the failed, incarceration-focused policies of the past. Instead, California needs thoughtful solutions to real, high-priority problems. This includes addressing the root causes of crime by investing in housing, jobs, education, food assistance, and other strategies to ensure that all Californians can be healthy and thrive.

California's crime rates are down significantly compared to past highs, despite a recent national increase. Learn how California's current crime rate compares to previous decades.

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Everyone wants to live in safe communities, and data show California continues to experience crime rates well below historical peaks. The property crime rate — the number of property crimes per 100,000 residents — was 2,314 in 2022, far below the peak of 6,881 in 1980. The violent crime rate was 495 per 100,000 in 2022, less than half the 1992 peak of 1,104.

Crime rates increased across the nation as the COVID-19 pandemic took its toll. Any rise in crime is concerning, but policymakers should avoid overreacting as crime rates remain at historic lows in California.

Instead of resurrecting the failed, incarceration-focused policies of the past, state leaders must advance strategies to reduce youth violence, strengthen families and communities, and target the longstanding structural barriers to opportunity — such as poverty and housing instability — that disproportionately impact Black, Latinx, and other Californians of color.

Despite recent increases, shoplifting remains below pre-pandemic levels in the state. Learn how California's current shoplifting rate compares to previous years.

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Everyone wants to live in safe communities, and data show California continues to experience crime rates well below historical peaks. The property crime rate — the number of property crimes per 100,000 residents — was 2,178 per 100,000 in 2021, far below the peak of 6,881 in 1980. The violent crime rate was 466 per 100,000 in 2021, less than half the 1992 peak of 1,104.

Line Chart: Property and Violent Crime Rates in California Remain Well Below the Peaks of the Past Five Decades

Crime rates recently increased across the nation as the COVID-19 pandemic took its toll. In California, between 2020 and 2021 the property crime rate rose by 3% and the violent crime rate went up by over 6%.

Any rise in crime is concerning, even as crime rates remain at historic lows. Policymakers should avoid resurrecting the failed, incarceration-focused policies of the past. Instead, state leaders must advance strategies to reduce youth violence, strengthen families and communities, and target the longstanding structural barriers to opportunity — such as poverty and housing instability — that disproportionately impact Black, Latinx, and other Californians of color.

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Join our email list!