California's status as the epicenter of shoplifting in the United States may escalate further if State Senator Dave Cortese's SB 553 legislation gains approval, claim certain retailers. With the bill recently clearing the state Senate, it is poised to proceed to the Assembly, intensifying concerns within the retail sector.
Described in rather scathing terms by Rachel Michelin, the California Retailers Association (CRA) chief, the bill ostensibly targets the issue of workplace violence, which essentially refers to individuals engaging in theft and inciting conditions that may lead to violence.
Michelin raises concerns about the legislation, stating that “It says no employee can approach someone who is shoplifting. So even if someone is trained on how to deter someone from doing that, now they’re not allowed to approach someone. So, what does that mean?”
“We are opening up the door to allow people to walk into stores, steal and walk out,” she said.
The CRA asserts that if SB 553 is enacted, it must encompass all industries, not solely retail. Moreover, the CRA highlights that the majority of retailers presently enforce policies forbidding regular employees from confronting individuals regarding stolen goods. Additionally, many retailers already have specially trained employees dedicated to theft prevention.
Cortese, a Democrat, stated, "What we’re saying in the bill is, it’s not ok for an employer to take a rank and file worker, somebody whose job is really something else, a reporter for example, and say ‘hey if there’s an intruder, we’re going to deputize you. You’ll be the one to intervene.’ People get hurt and oftentimes killed that way."
According to Michelin, employers are already neglecting the very actions that the legislation seeks to regulate.