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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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