Tougher penalties for coordinated shoplifting; Assembly GOP OKs

The state Assembly has approved a Republican-authored bill that would create tougher penalties for coordinated shoplifting.

The proposal comes in response to reports last year of gangs of shoplifters running rampant through high-end department stores in California. In one incident in November 80 people descended on a Walnut Creek Nordstrom. Gov. Gavin Newsom signed a law in July reestablishing the crime of organized retail theft.

There’s been no reports of similar smash-and-grabs in Wisconsin, but the bill’s chief Senate sponsor, Duey Stroebel, said in written remarks to the Senate judiciary committee that the state must send a strong message that organized theft rings will be punished.

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Under the bill, the severity of penalties for committing thefts as a group would be determined by the total value of the all the stolen items. Under current law penalties vary from a misdemeanor to a felony depending on the value of the stolen property.

The Assembly passed the bill 59-33 with no debate. The measure goes next to the Senate.

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