Assemblymember Irwin announces Legislation on Organized Retail Theft Prosecutions

Joined by Sheriff Bill Ayub and District Attorney Erik Nasarenko

For immediate release:

THOUSAND OAKS, CA- Assemblymember Jacqui Irwin (D – Thousand Oaks) joined Ventura County Sheriff Bill Ayub and Ventura County District Attorney Erik Nasarenko this morning to announce her plans to introduce legislation to respond to the recent occurrences of brazen organized retail theft in California.

“We have all seen the news accounts of store clerks being pistol whipped, shoppers being pepper sprayed, and thieves using sledgehammers to threaten anyone in their way,” shared Assemblymember Irwin. “I will not wait out this holiday season and let these organized groups continue to believe they can prey on California shoppers and retailers with no repercussions.”

This holiday season Californians looking to shop in-person at local small businesses and their downtown shopping districts have not only had to consider their safety from COVID-19, but also being caught up in the violent and destructive crimes of large theft conspiracies. Recent examples of massive groups attacking retail stores in San Francisco, Los Angeles, Walnut Creek, and San Jose have harmed Californian’s sense of personal security while shopping. 

“Organized Retail Theft is a persistent and growing concern for our communities.  We need more tools to address this increasingly brazen trend and keep our communities safe from those who would prey upon it.,” said Sheriff Bill Ayub  “Assemblymember Irwin’s legislation is a step in the right direction, and I wholeheartedly support her effort.”

During 2020-2021 there were 173 instances of organized retail theft in the Ventura County Sheriff’s jurisdiction, with the total stolen property value exceeding $300,000. 

“The Ventura County District Attorney’s office has utilized this law to aggressively prosecute organized thieves who cross multiple county lines to commit their crimes,” said District Attorney Erik Nasarenko. “Assemblywoman Irwin’s legislation to reauthorize the statute will enable prosecutors to crack down on roving theft rings who use planning, communication and coordination to victimize multiple targets.”

Assemblymember Irwin’s legislation will return jurisdictional authority for similar theft crimes including organized retail theft (Penal Code 490.4) to District Attorneys who are willing to prosecute these elaborate theft crime rings that often cross county jurisdictional lines. When the jurisdictional authority was active between 2019-2021 the Ventura District Attorney’s Office was able to consolidate crimes across multiple counties in 13 filings.  The legislation will be introduced when the Legislature returns from its interim recess on January 3, 2022.