Robbery: California’s easiest way to make a living

A few millennia ago, Moses came down from the mount and told the gathered multitudes: well, ladies and gentlemen, I am bringing you two news items. One is good, the other bad. Which one do you want to hear first?

The good one, of course, the crowd yelled.

Fine, thus Moses. So, here goes: I did manage to negotiate the commandments from two dozen to just ten.

And the bad one?

Thou shall not steal remains, replied Moses.

California’s legislators must have been truant when this subject came up in their Bible classes or, even more probably, they skipped the subject altogether. That could be the only explanation for their 2014 legislation that made theft legally acceptable, so long as your heist did not exceed $950, give or take in the court’s opinion.

It’s called Prop 47, the Safe Neighborhoods and Schools Act, and it allows those engaged in this criminal activity to get away with whatever they can carry. They only have to make sure that what they carry doesn’t exceed $950 in ticketed price. Of course, if there are more people in the thieving group, or if they come back for more to steal, again, not to exceed the $950 limit, they are safe.

How come? Simple: California does not aggregate robberies.

Who was the first to notice? Why, the thieves, of course.

Class antagonism

Those who pushed for this law to succeed were of the class struggle variety of Marxism. The poor can’t afford caviar but if they want it, they have every right to get it, too. No matter how they achieve their goal. If the shopkeepers won’t give it to them, what other ways have they to get it? There it is.

The idea that the caviar-hungry could get an education that would let them proceed to higher levels in society, thus making them able to buy as much caviar as their hearts (stomachs) desire, has never crossed their minds.

Besides, the record shows most such shoplifting crimes, ooops, activities, California-style, happen not in grocery stores but, rather, in establishments that deal in furs, jewellery, electronics, and other such expensive paraphernalia. None of it would make any lists of goods on survival kits, either.

Now, what passes for opposition, the Republicans, started a movement that would make (as they put it) “crime illegal again.”

The AB 1599 would repeal most of Prop 47, Republican Assembly member Kevin Kiley, author of the bill, said.

“[Prop 47] has essentially legalized theft and open drug use in California, culminating in these unbelievable smash-and-grab robberies,” Kiley explained.

Vivid description

Nothing beats comfort and leisure, especially in California, known for her laidback approach to life in general and, it seems, to crime in particular.

Here’s Assembly member Kiley again: “You have people that will go into department stores and they’ll actually have a calculator on them.

“They’ll add up the value of what they’re stealing because they know as long as it’s under $950, they might as well wave at the security camera on the way out. They know there’s going to be no consequence for that.”

Crimes committed under Prop 47’s benevolent gaze are getting too costly for the retailers to remain silent.

San Francisco and Oakland alone have lost $3.6 billion annually to organized retail crime, Rachel Michelin, president and CEO of California Retailers Association (CRA), said.

The National Retail Federation has been trying to soothe the panic: it estimates losses from organized crime at around 0.07 per cent of total sales. The Californians are crying wolf too loudly, the National group believe.

Governor Gavin Newsom is on board with the National Retail Federation: too much panic for too little reason, so far as he is concerned.

It would be up to him to approve of the new measure.

Here’s the issue: to a guy for whom a first-degree murder is not much more than a misdemeanour rather than a felony, so long as the deceased victim is white, retail robberies are nothing to even think about.

Use other laws to prosecute shoplifters, Newsom has been telling his state’s retailers.

Not that it would be easy: even if convicted on the basis of other (existing) legislation, the thieves would be off the hook not later than on appeal: Prop 47 would set them free.

What other options?

Not every Californian makes it to Hollywood to become a movie star.

They can’t live in gated surroundings, like the movie stars do, but they have other advantages. Even the least talented film actor has to endure a couple of hours of work every day s/he is on the set. The hours when the take is rehearsed and ready but the lighting needs to be just right and isn’t are tedious, tiring and boring.

Yes, the stars may be making multiple amounts of what an average person earns, but still, even if they spend their entire salary on mountains of caviar, they can’t eat it all in one sitting, and, meanwhile, the rest goes bad.

So much more practical to steal just a few tins of caviar, to set you up for the rest of the week!

And why pay astronomical amounts for brand new television sets when you can pick the one you like the most and carry it away, so long as your share of the loot isn’t more than the measly $950.

And one more advantage: you don’t pay taxes on the goods you stole, and whatever of it you sell, it was cash, no receipts, and, again, you go not only scot-free, but tax-free, too.

What a life!

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