California’s Retail Crime Task Force Doubles Arrests in 2023


The California Highway Patrol (CHP), as part of Gov. Gavin Newsom’s “Real Public Safety Plan”—introduced at the end of 2021—had a record-breaking year in 2023 making more arrests, recovering more stolen items, and conducting more proactive operations than any previous year, according to a report released Dec. 19 from the governor’s office.

According to the report, the CHP made over 1,000 organized retail theft arrests this year—more than double the number in 2022.

Additionally, the agency recovered 187,515 items stolen from retailers—topping the previous year by more than 38,600.

However, the biggest increase came from the CHP’s “proactive” operations, meaning preventing crimes before they occur, which showed a more than 300 percent increase this year, according to the report.

Mr. Newsom said increased retail theft is a trend seen nationally, but that California is leading efforts to crack down on the crime.

“As reports of organized retail crime increase nationally, California is meeting the moment by leading more takedowns and making more arrests than ever before,” he said.

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Meanwhile, CHP Commissioner Sean Duryee said that the cooperation between local law enforcement agencies across the state is making a measurable impact on the growing problem.

“These early results, which are a team effort, show California is headed in the right direction,” Mr. Duryee said.

The governor’s office also reported that the CHP task force has led more than 1,225 investigations since its establishment as part of Mr. Newsom’s public safety plan, focusing on “strengthening local law enforcement response, ensuring perpetrators are held accountable, and getting guns and drugs off our streets.”

The California 2023–24 budget has allocated over $800 million to support programs and partner agencies in the battle against such crime.

Since 2019, the estimated value of stolen retail merchandise recovered exceeds $21 million, according to the governor’s report.


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