A shoplifting charge may seem insignificant at first glance, yet when it comes to the bigger picture, such a crime can come with lasting effects. Even with the changes in California’s shoplifting laws in recent years, those charged can deal with the repercussions for months and even years. The debate surrounding these changes appears to continue, but in the meantime, more recent reports show an increase in theft across the state. 

In 2014, LPM Insider explains that California passed Proposition 47, a law that would reduce punishment for countless people behind bars. With this change came the adjustment in shoplifting regulations, which now require that an item costs at least $950 before a shoplifter can be charged with a felony. The primary goal of these changes was to make an impact on the crippling number of the state’s prison population, which would ultimately save the California $150 in the first year alone. These changes have certainly sparked debate in regard to shoplifting cases and the severity of penalties, as LPM points out that California is one of 17 states without a straightforward law surrounding retail theft.

CBS News also targets Proposition 47 in an article on shoplifting laws in the state, noting the increase in shoplifting reports that have taken place since these modifications. Some lawmakers claim that shoplifters are well aware of these reduced penalties, making the situation seem all the more complex. Those in support of Proposition 47 argue that law enforcement already has the tools needed to address such crimes. While it appears that retailers have suffered as a result of the change in law, CBS also raises the point that organized retail theft draws in the most vulnerable — including those who are homeless and those struggling with addictions — and that severe penalties only open the door to a vicious cycle behind bars. The state may still express uncertainty when it comes to shoplifting laws, but at current, penalties for the same crime in other states can be much more severe.