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'Insult to injury' | New campaign takes aim at combating California retail theft

The California Asian Chamber of Commerce said the rise in crime coming out of the pandemic is insult to injury.

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — A new campaign was launched Wednesday to combat the rise in retail theft. 

The group, Californians Against Retail and Residential Theft (CARRT), said they plan on meeting with lawmakers to educate them on the impacts of a proposition they say is in part to blame for the rise in crime. 

“We represent over 800,000 Hispanic business owners and small businesses throughout California," Julian Canete with the Hispanic Chambers of Commerce said, "And we are proud to announce that we are part of the Californians Against Retail and Residential Theft.”

At a time when minority business owners were disproportionately impacted by the pandemic, these organizations are saying the rise in retail crime is rubbing salt on the wound. 

"May is AAPI Heritage Month," David Nelson with the Asian Chamber of Commerce said. "Our communities and our people are being targeted, and it's an insult to injury as we go through, now out, of this pandemic."

Superior Grocers said its 47 stores in California get hit at least 200 times a day. That’s 1,400 hundred times a week. 

They played some of the surveillance videos during the press conference where you can see people casually walking out of stores with carts full of goods. 

“What bothers me more is the tail end that video you didn't see is that our employees approach them and ask them for a receipt or something else," Richard Wardwell with the Grocers Association said, "which leads to further altercations. It's causing a safety hazard in our stores.”

They believe Prop 47 is in part to blame. That’s the proposition voters passed to make anything that criminals steal valued at less than $950 a misdemeanor instead of a felony. The legislature has already blocked bills that aim to repeal or modify it this session.

“It's as if the legislature doesn't know what's going on in their own neighborhoods," Matt Ross with the campaign said, "and that's why we want to once again, try and educate them.”

While CARRT as a group said they won’t pick a political position, they believe law enforcement is not given the tools needed, and part of the solution lies within district attorney’s offices as well. 

"I think some of this can go back to upcoming elections as well," said David Kusa of the Automotive Service Councils of California. "We do have a number of district attorneys in some larger cities that have absolutely refused to prosecute these crimes. We have to be more aware of what we're voting for so changes can be made there specifically,"

Even if the legislature does pass something on Prop 47, it will still need to go back down to the voters. 

Politicians who are against changing Prop 47 are not blind to the retail theft making headlines. 

Some argue there needs to be more of a focus on getting to the root cause of why these criminals are committing the crimes: Poverty, homelessness, you name it. 

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