Início Tech Viral Retail Theft Sign Near Louis Vuitton in San Francisco Was Removed

Viral Retail Theft Sign Near Louis Vuitton in San Francisco Was Removed

Retail theft is increasingly a concern for some major chains and elected officials in different parts of the country. And the varying degrees of penalties for shoplifting in different states continue to be a contentious issue.

A recent social media post of a phony sign that appeared to be outside of the Louis Vuitton store in downtown San Francisco has further stoked that debate. Designed to resemble a municipal-issued street sign, it read, “NOTICE: Stolen goods must remain under $950.” The sign appeared to mock California’s retail theft law, which is considered a misdemeanor if the value of the stolen goods is less than $950.

A few years ago the Louis Vuitton store in San Francisco was the site of a smash-and-grab robbery. Video footage of that incident, which was among several that had taken place in the Union Square area at that time, went viral on social media and was widely featured in the mainstream media. In November of 2021, nine individuals were arrested by law enforcement officials and faced felony charges for those crimes.

Rachel Gordon, director of policy and communications at the San Francisco Department of Public Works, said Wednesday, “These were not city signs. I don’t know who put them up.” Gordon declined to elaborate.

While speculation that the sign was Photoshopped or AI-generated was floated by some social media sleuths, that was not the case. San Francisco Police Department information officer Eve Laokwansathitaya said Wednesday, “We can confirm that the unauthorized sign was posted and was immediately removed upon discovery. We are not releasing any further information. California does not have a law that allows for theft. Please refer to Prop 47 [a law enacted in the state in 2014 that classified shoplifting as a misdemeanor] for further specifics that detail the legislation.”

Pursuant to Penal Code section 459.5, Prop 47 defines shoplifting “as entering a commercial establishment while the establishment is open during regular business hours with the intent to commit larceny where the value of the property taken does not exceed $950. Any act of shoplifting must be charged as shoplifting and may not be charged as burglary or theft.”

The phony sign’s message was delivered at a pivotal time. A ballot measure that would make reforms to Prop 47 with new penalties for repeat shoplifters and penalties for fentanyl dealers was announced by Gov. Gavin Newsom’s office Monday. The plan was crafted with Senate president pro tempore Mike McGuire and Speaker of the Assembly Robert Rivas. It was reportedly put together behind closed doors last weekend as an alternative to a more punitive initiative that was created by a coalition of retailers and law enforcement officials that would result in jail time for repeat shoplifting offenders.

Under both proposals, repeat shoplifting offenders would face felony charges. However, the retailers’ initiative would result in a three-strike policy and increased sentences regardless of when the convictions occurred. The legislators’ proposal would lead to tougher punishment if the repeat offenders struck within a three-year span, allowing police to aggregate the value of the stolen goods.

Touting the proposed measure to Proposition 47, a press release issued Monday by Newsom’s office notes that California “has the 10th toughest threshold nationally for prosecutors to charge suspects with a felony, $950. Forty other states — including Texas ($2,500), Alabama ($1,500), and Mississippi ($1,000) — require higher dollar amounts for suspects to be charged with a felony.”

Florida has a much lower threshold of $300 to discourage shoplifters and protect businesses.

Media requests to McGuire and Rivera were not acknowledged Wednesday, nor were ones to the Union Square Alliance or the San Francisco Council of District Merchants Association. A spokeswoman for the National Retail Federation deferred comment to Rachel Michelin, president of the California Retailers Association, who had not responded immediately to a media request.

A report released by the Council on Criminal Justice last fall said that the average shoplifting rate across a group of 24 cities had fallen over the past few years, declining from around 45 to 40 offenses per 100,000 people in the period between January 2019 and June 2023. However, the council’s data also showed significant spikes in some cities such as New York City where reported shoplifting incidents rose by 64 percent and Los Angeles, which saw a 61 percent increase. Contrary to some media coverage, reported incidents declined over the same period in San Francisco by 5 percent.

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