License to shoplift: Two thieves brazenly stroll out of TJ Maxx with armfuls of clothes and LAPD cop says ‘criminals are winning’ because new law classes theft under $950 as a misdemeanor
Viral video posted earlier this week shows two men carrying armfuls of jeans, jackets and other apparel as they casually saunter out of a TJ Maxx in the Granada Hills section of the San Fernando Valley north of Los Angeles.
‘That looks great,’ one man is heard saying in the video as the two men head toward the door with the stolen loot, making no haste as they leave.
One of the men appeared to be carrying an oversized duffle bag on his back.
The men walk across a parking lot as the man continues filming and says, ‘I want to see how far you guys get.’
The men eventually fill a black sedan with the stolen merchandise before nonchalantly driving away from the scene.
‘They didn’t even run out, they walked out,’ Los Angeles Police Department Sgt. Jerretta Sandoz told CBS Los Angeles.
‘And so, that’s sending a message that…the criminals, are winning.’
Shoplifting cases have been on the rise in cities across California in recent years. Many say the spike began in 2014 after the passage of Proposition 47, which downgraded charges of property theft of less than $950 in value from a felony to a misdemeanor.
Sandoz, who is also vice president of the Los Angeles Police Protective League, added: ‘If they’re caught, they’re probably given the equivalent of a traffic ticket.
‘So it’s not taken seriously.’
Sandoz cited an incident in which an employee of a Rite Aid in Glassell Park was shot and killed last Thursday morning after he tried to stop two men from stealing a case of beer.
The dead employee was identified as 36-year-old Miguel Penaloza.
According to criminal defense attorney Alexandra Kazarian, Penaloza’s death shows that store employees are fearful of confronting shoplifters who might use violence if someone tries to stop them.
‘The employees at TJ Maxx have been told that, in these specific circumstances, it’s not worth it for you to go and physically attack, physically stop people that are walking out with this inventory,’ Kazarian told CBS Los Angeles.
‘Because these businesses have insurance.’
Kazarian also disputed the notion that shoplifters who walk out with piles of goods are not getting punished.
‘People who are stealing giant, giant tote bags, giant backpacks worth of inventory are not getting the same benefit of the people that are stealing food and clothing for their children,’ she said.
No arrests have been made in the Rite Aid shooting. The LAPD released surveillance footage showing the alleged suspects.
‘If you let these criminals think that they can go in and steal merchandise and steal things, what happens when someone tries to stop them?’ Sandoz said.
The LAPD said it is investigating the TJ Maxx incident as well.
A spokesperson for Los Angeles County District Attorney George Gascon said: ‘Once officers make an arrest or cite someone for a crime, they will present the case to our office.
‘We make charging decisions accordingly. We do so based on the facts, the totality of the circumstances, and the law.’
Gascon is one of the left-leaning leaders in California who many claim are only allowing the crime to worsen because of new policies they say are soft on crime.
On Monday, the La Verne City Council became the 24th to pass a ‘no confidence’ vote against Gascon for that very reason. A spokesperson for the La Verne City Council told Fox 11 in a statement that Gascon’s policies are a ‘risk to public safety.’
A petition to recall Gascon also launched in May, which specifically cites his refusal to seek the death penalty in any cases and his decision to drop sentence enhancements like gang affiliation.
A spokesman for Gascón told ABC 7 that the no-confidence votes are nothing more than a political ploy, but did not comment further.