Beginning in 2019, Assembly Bill (AB) 1065 required the Department of the California Highway Patrol (CHP), until July 1, 2021, to coordinate with the Department of Justice (DOJ) to convene a regional property crimes task force to identify geographic areas experiencing increased levels of property crimes and assist local law enforcement with resources, such as personnel and equipment. The recent passage of Assembly Bill 331 will extend the operation of the regional property crimes task force until January 1, 2026. As reported by the National Retail Federation, organized retail theft accounts for nearly $30 billion in economic loss per year. This loss is carried by retailers on several levels but is ultimately passed on to consumers through price inflation to offset economic loss. While the problem is most commonly associated with shoplifting, it extends well beyond into associated organized criminal activity. Commercial burglary, vehicle burglary, identity theft, credit card fraud, forgery, and fencing (selling or distribution of) stolen property are part of a bigger picture that finance ongoing criminal operations. In response to AB 1065, the CHP, in consultation with the DOJ, developed a task force concept to work with allied agencies to combat organized retail theft. Three regional task forces, known as Organized Retail Crime Task Forces (ORCTF), were established by the CHP in three field Divisions with the greatest need for immediate action: Golden Gate Division (encompassing the greater Bay Area), Southern Division (encompassing the greater Los Angeles region), and Border Division (encompassing Orange and San Diego counties).
The CHP encourages victims of organized retail crime to report qualifying incident(s) which are covered under California Penal Code Section 490.4, Organized Retail Theft. 490.4. (a) A person who commits any of the following acts is guilty of organized retail theft, and shall be punished pursuant to subdivision (b):(1) Acts in concert with one or more persons to steal merchandise from one or more merchant’s premises or online marketplace with the intent to sell, exchange, or return the merchandise for value.(2) Acts in concert with two or more persons to receive, purchase, or possess merchandise described in paragraph (1), knowing or believing it to have been stolen.(3) Acts as an agent of another individual or group of individuals to steal merchandise from one or more merchant’s premises or online marketplaces as part of an organized plan to commit theft.(4) Recruits, coordinates, organizes, supervises, directs, manages, or finances another to undertake any of the acts described in paragraph (1) or (2) or any other statute defining theft of merchandise.(b) Organized retail theft is punishable as follows:(1) If violations of paragraph (1), (2), or (3) of subdivision (a) are committed on two or more separate occasions within a 12-month period, and if the aggregated value of the merchandise stolen, received, purchased, or possessed within that 12-month period exceeds nine hundred fifty dollars ($950), the offense is punishable by imprisonment in a county jail not exceeding one year or pursuant to subdivision (h) of Section 1170.
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