While recently visiting The Hangout, a Long Beach small business, Gov. Gavin Newsom signed legislation to improve the state’s ability to stop organized retail theft. AB 331 by Assemblymember Reginald Byron Jones-Sawyer, Sr. (D-Los Angeles), extends the sunset date of the crime of organized retail theft, as well as the California Highway Patrol Organized Retail Crime Task Force, to Jan. 1, 2026.

“Among the most basic needs for all Californians is to feel safe at home, at the park, or walking to school,” said Newsom. “As we pursue nation-leading criminal justice reforms – all with an eye to making our communities safer – a more holistic approach is called for. We must invest in public safety while, at the same time, tackling the root causes of these increases.”

CHP’s Organized Retail Crime Task Force strategically deploys regional teams of investigators who specialize in the investigation of organized retail crime and partners with local law enforcement agencies and district attorneys to identify and prosecute organized retail theft. Over the past three years, the Task Force has been a part of 668 investigations resulting in 252 arrests and the recovery of over $16.3 billion in stolen merchandise.

The Retail Crime Task Force works collaboratively with local law enforcement agencies, as well as other crime task forces in the state, to:

• Collaborate with allied law enforcement agencies and district attorneys to identify and prosecute organized theft rings, recover lost merchandise and reduce associated crime.

• Collaborate with the retail industry to reduce incidents of theft and strengthen locational safety for shoppers.

• Launch a web-based portal for the public and California retailers to report tips directly to the CHP.

• Continue to partner with allied agencies to offer specialized training and general law enforcement assistance related to auto theft and organized retail crimes.

In addition to the Task Force, the CHP will proactively monitor crime trends using the best available real-time data, and in response, will strategically deploy patrols, regional investigative teams, multi-agency task forces (local and federal), state security program and K-9 officers.

Prior to the pandemic, both California’s violent crime rates and property rates were among the lowest ever recorded. Although crime rates have remained relatively steady, the latest data shows an increase in homicides and gun-related violence, mirroring a similar national trend.

Newsom’s recent public safety investments are focused on four key priorities to reduce gun violence and keep California’s communities safe: 1) investing in local communities, 2) preventing crime before it happens, 3) investigating crimes that do occur and holding those responsible accountable and 4) getting guns off California streets.