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New Florida law increases penalties for organized retail theft, porch piracy

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(The Center Square) — Gov. Ron DeSantis signed into law on Tuesday a measure designed to combat organized retail theft and porch piracy.

DeSantis signed House Bill 549, which lowers the threshold value for third-degree felony theft. DeSantis added that retail theft results in skyrocketing customer prices because businesses need to recoup their losses.

“That has an impact on you as a consumer because the prices will go up to reflect those stolen goods,” DeSantis said. “That’s just basic business. If they’re not able to sell those goods, if those are losses, then they gotta find a way to compensate.”

DeSantis said that the recent phenomenon of stores locking away certain goods to prevent them from being stolen is demoralizing for customers. They said it is not good for quality of life. DeSantis further noted that the behavior of thieves shows contempt for the law.

“Then of course, if you have people come in and just steal retail and walk out, that creates a contempt for the rule of law that has a spillover effect in areas far beyond retail theft,” DeSantis said.

“Florida is a law-and-order state, and our policies combating organized retail theft are another shining example of how we are leading the nation,” said Attorney General Ashley Moody. “Grateful for Gov. DeSantis signing this important piece of legislation into law, as well as for the work of Representative Rommel and Senator Trumbull this session to keep building a stronger, safer Florida.”

According to DeSantis, Florida has seen a decline in retail theft over the last four years and added that he thinks it’s because people know that Florida is not a state a thief would want to “try that” in.

“We are seeing issues with retail theft across the country, nationwide 88% of retailers have reported that shoplifters are more aggressive and violent now, compared to just a few years ago, 49% said they have observed much more violent and aggressive behavior,” DeSantis said.

DeSantis noted that those committing these crimes do not think they will be held accountable, and in some parts of the country, stores are closing down all together.

“You see stores closing down in other parts of the United States, whether that’s Target closing nine stores in Portland and Seattle, Walmart closing stores in Chicago, Nordstrom closing stores in San Francisco, that is a direct result of the lack of commitment to the rule of law and holding criminals accountable,” DeSantis said.

DeSantis stated that is not what will happen in Florida and that the new legislation will ensure that retailers can continue operating their businesses, and criminals are held accountable.