Gavin Newsom promises swift action after weekend of smash and grabs

State News

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (KGET) — Gov. Gavin Newsom said his administration is immediately responding to the smash-and-grab robberies that ravaged retailers over the weekend across the Bay Area.

That starts now with a larger law enforcement presence around shopping malls, but retailers and state leaders both agree more work must be done.

“I have no sympathy, no empathy whatsoever with people smashing, grabbing, stealing people’s items, creating havoc and terror in our streets — none,” Newsom said at an event in the Bay Area Monday.

Newsom revealed his own business has been broken into three times this year.

The governor promised to exponentially increase funding in the state budget to help prevent organized retail crime.

“We want real accountability, we want people prosecuted and we want people to feel safe this holiday season,” he said.

Mayhem before the holiday season happened over the weekend in Walnut Creek, where investigators say a mass robbery involving 80 people looted a Nordstrom.

“I wouldn’t even characterize that as organized crime, that was domestic terrorism,” said Rachel Michelin, the president of the California Retailers Association.

Michelin said as organized crime in California continues to rise, law enforcement, retailers, and state and local leaders must come together on solutions, including potentially strengthening the laws against organized retail crime.

The association is also requesting an expansion of the state’s Organized Retail Crime Task Forces, which was relaunched in July.

With the relaunch of the task force four months ago, the governor said it has resulted in 773 investigations, hundreds of arrests and the return of nearly $20 million worth of stolen goods.

“Some of these solutions may be uncomfortable,” Michelin said. “We’re going to have those uncomfortable conversations and have a look at some of the laws on the books, obviously, they aren’t working.”

But a lot of the solutions are not short-term or immediate.

“My fear is that we will continue to see these types of brazen criminal activities happening across the state of California,” Michelin said.

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