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'There's no free ride' | Gov. Newsom's new plan to stop retail thefts

Newsom pledged to hold retail thieves who threaten people's businesses accountable. Republicans called it a photo op.

LONG BEACH, Calif. — California Gov. Gavin Newsom has signed a law aimed at curbing organized retail theft crimes as violent smash-and-grab shoplifting costs state businesses millions of dollars every year. 

The law signed Wednesday reestablishes the crime of organized retail theft, which lawmakers first created in 2018 but allowed to lapse as of July 1.

Prosecutors can again seek to charge the crime as either a misdemeanor or a felony. Nationally, organized retail theft causes retailers tens of billions of dollars annually. 

What effect the law will have is unclear, because district attorneys in some of California's biggest cities have pledged to avoid stiff penalties and sentencing enhancements.

Newsom said the California Highway Patrol (CHP), will be collaborating with local law enforcement agencies to combat organized retail theft. CHP’s Organized Retail Crime Task Force will work with regional teams to help crack down on retail theft. 

"Different locations will have three tasks forces," California Highway Patrol Commissioner Amanda Ray said. "One will be operating in the Golden Gate area which will cover the Bay area. The Second will operate in San Deigo which will cover Orange County and San Diego County and the third will be in the Inland area. 

Over the past three years, the Task Force has participated in six hundred and sixty-eight investigations resulting in about 252 arrests, and recovered over $16.3 million in stolen merchandise, according to a press release. 

Newsom promised to hold criminals accountable for their actions through different approaches and not that of the '80s and '90s. 

He did not specify what would make his approach different from the past. 

Newsom is facing a recall election in September.   

"Voters can see through his photo ops and on September 14 will replace him with a leader who is committed to returning safety to our communities,” CAGOP Chairwoman Jessica Millan Patterson said in a Facebook post.

Earlier this month, the National Retail Federation reported that Sacramento ranked number 10 out of the top ten worst cities in the country for retail crime. San Fransico was Number 5.

WATCH MORE:  Why Sacramento businesses are seeing spike in retail theft.