Assemblywoman Pilar Schiavo leads effort to combat organized crime and retail theft


Apr 11, 2024 - Patrick Gipson, the former sheriff's deputy and far-right Republican running to unseat freshmen Assemblywoman Pilar Schiavo in California’s 40th Assembly District, has been trumpeting to anyone who will listen that Schiavo is “soft on crime”. This week, Schiavo may have taken the teeth out of Gipson’s argument. Schiavo, who is a member of the Select Committee on Retail Theft, put forward solutions to cracking down on organized crime and retail theft.


On April 9, 2024, Assemblywoman Pilar Schiavo, alongside Attorney General Rob Bonta and State Assembly Speaker Robert Rivas, unveiled a robust legislative package to combat retail crimes at a press conference. This initiative, supported by a bipartisan coalition of Assemblymembers and State Senators, aims to address the escalating crisis fueled by organized crime rings.


At the forefront of this legislative push is AB 2943, a bill co-authored by Assemblywoman Schiavo. Designed to tackle the rampant "smash and grab" thefts that have been occurring across California, AB 2943 imposes severe penalties on professional retail thieves. Additionally, it introduces measures to counter the online sale of stolen goods and enhances law enforcement's ability to respond effectively to these crimes.


Assemblywoman Schiavo emphasized the community-driven approach behind the legislation. Through initiatives like the Select Committee on Retail Theft and community town halls, lawmakers have sought to understand the unique challenges faced by residents, leading to the development of comprehensive solutions. Schiavo herself addressed the topic of crime and retail theft during a recent town hall event at Newhall Park in Santa Clarita. The hope is that AB 2943 will play a pivotal role in disrupting criminal operations and modernizing the justice system's response to retail theft.


Speaker Rivas said that the Assembly is committed to delivering tangible improvements in public safety. The bipartisan legislative package represents a concerted effort to safeguard shoppers and business owners while strengthening law enforcement's capacity to address the issue swiftly.


“In October of last year, I formed the Assembly Select Committee on Retail Theft because theft and retail crime were having a chilling effect on our communities,” Rivas said. “That chilling effect still exists here in 2024.


“It’s important that leaders listen, that they hear the calls of Californians when they say they’re worried, they’re scared, they’re anxious, they’re angry,” Attorney General Rob Bontas said. “They want change. They want action. This is change. This is action. These are solutions, and these seven bills will sharpen California’s ability to tackle organized crime head-on, to address retail crime, to hold perpetrators accountable when they commit crime.”


In a press release, Assemblywoman Schiavo stated the following:

“As a member of the Select Committee on Retail Theft and Principal Co-Author of AB 2843, we have prioritized addressing growing organized retail crime in our community. We have worked to connect with our community about its unique challenges - including launching a survey to gather community data on the impact of retail theft in AD40 - which has led us to today’s announcement of our comprehensive bill package to bring forward real and lasting solutions to retail theft. This legislation will protect our local businesses and economy, ensure the public is safe, and meaningfully collaborate with law enforcement. AB 2943, the bill in which I am proud to serve as a principal co-author, will play a crucial role in our broader strategy to combat retail theft, providing law enforcement and businesses with the tools they need to protect Californians. This legislation not only aims to disrupt the operations of crime rings but also ensures that our justice system is equipped to deal with modern challenges in retail theft.”


The legislation got the green light from the business community, with the California Chamber of Commerce lending its support.


Among the bills included in the legislative package are AB 1779, AB 1802, AB 1960, AB 1972, and AB 3209.