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Get the latest coverage of the 2024 Florida legislative session in Tallahassee from our coverage partners and WUSF.

Retail theft legislation proposed by Gov. DeSantis would 'drop the hammer on' repeat offenders

 Governor Ron DeSantis at Cape Coral press conference Tuesday on retail theft.
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Governor Ron DeSantis at Cape Coral press conference Tuesday on retail theft.

Citing theft issues in other states, specifically California and New York, Gov. Ron DeSantis Tuesday proposed legislative action to try to curb retail theft and porch piracy of delivered goods.

Citing theft issues in other states, specifically California and New York, Governor Ron DeSantis Tuesday proposed legislative action to try to curb retail theft and porch piracy of delivered goods.

According to the governor's office, in 2022, retailers across the country lost $112 billion to retail theft, with sharp increases in major cities like New York, Los Angeles and Washington, D.C. DeSantis' office also said shoplifting in Florida has decreased by 30% since DeSantis first took office.

“If you commit a crime in Florida, you are going to be held accountable,” DeSantis said in the media briefing at the Cape Coral Police Office. “We will not tolerate retail crime, porch pirates and the lawlessness that they allow in California and New York.”

DeSantis said Florida's lower crime rate didn't happen by accident.

"It's because you have policies that are empowering law enforcement to do their jobs that are holding criminals accountable. And whether that is working with the legislature to enact stiff penalties for fentanyl dealers, which we've done, whether it's making sure that our state attorneys are actually enforcing the law and not nullifying the law, whether it make whether it's a eliminating any talk of so called bail reform, where they just let people out without having to post bail," he said.

The governor also said there was a reason for the higher crime rates in other states.

"There was a discussion on I think it was CNN. And they're talking about because you have illegal aliens that are involved in these sufferings in places like New York City. So you have a massive border invasion, which is a huge problem. And then they get into these places, and they commit crimes," DeSantis said. "And so they were talking about how they're going around ransacking retail establishments in New York City. But then a lot of times they like to spend their money elsewhere, including Florida. And so the host said, Well, why aren't they stealing in Florida. And they're like, because they go to jail in Florida, and they don't want to go to jail. So they go back to New York and steal."

The proposed legislation would include:

  • Third degree felony if you commit retail theft with five or more individuals.
  • Second degree felony if criminals use social media to solicit others to participate in retail theft.
  • First degree felony if an individual commits retail theft with a firearm or has already had two or more prior convictions of retail theft.
  • Reducing the stolen property value necessary to charge criminals with a felony for stealing delivered packages.

"So we're going to be working with the legislature," the governor said. "And part of that is you need to make sure that of course prosecutors do their job and we've shown we've been willing to suspend prosecutors when they haven't enforced the law. But part of it is to make sure that the penalties are severe enough to deter people from doing this into the future. And right now we have a situation in Florida, where you We only get a felony, if you do five different retail thefts within a 45 day period. Well, excuse me, you should, I mean, you shouldn't do it at all. But if you do it and get caught, you go back to the Well, again, they should drop the hammer on you."

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WGCU Staff