BUSINESS owners are praising a crackdown on theft by law enforcement after feeling helpless against crime.
Retail theft cost the industry billions of dollars in 2022, and data shows that the number of incidents have soared since then.
Business owners and employees have increasingly spoken out about instances of theft coming with more violence.
The U.S. Sun previously reported on how a business in Pennsylvania has struggled so much with crime that they have hired armed guards to protect customers and merchandise.
Now, the state of Pennsylvania is clamping down even more on thieves with a new law that was passed last month.
The bill sponsored by State Senator David Argall was pushed after state data revealed that retail theft offenses increased in the state by 30% from 2021 to 2022.
“I think the goal is to just let people know that if they commit these kinds of crimes, they’re going to get prosecuted,” Argall told ABC news affiliate WSYX about his bill.
The bill that got bipartisan support changes how punishment is determined based on the total value of the stolen goods.
For example, if someone is found guilty of stealing merchandise valued between $2,500 and $9,999, this is now categorized as a third-degree felony offense.
Previously for a third-degree felony, the values would have had to be between $5,000 and $19,999.
Similarly, for merchandise valued between $10,000 and $49,999, this is now a second-degree felony.
Before it had to be valued at over $20,000 to quality as such.
Under the new law, a first-degree penalty will apply for stolen merchandise valued at $50,000 or more.
The legislation has also established an Office of Deputy Attorney General for Organized Retail Crime Theft.
This will consist of five prosecuting attorneys whose sole focus is retail theft across the state.
Business owners such as Vincent Emmanuel are excited by the new law.
“This is probably one of the best news I’ve heard in the 43 years of operating this business,” he told the outlet.
“At the end of the day, the government needs to provide us the infrastructure to continue to operate these stores profitably.
“Losing money is not a good thing for anybody.”
Emmanuel owns a 7-Eleven in Philadelphia and says that his store is targeted by thieves daily.
“They bring their own bags, and they throw everything that they want in it, and they walk right out,” he explained.
“There is nothing we can do, and the respect for the police part is gone.”
This has been supported by Police Detective Scott Pezick from West Whiteland Township.
“The people that we’re dealing with now tend to be more emboldened,” he told the news outlet.
“They’re not afraid to flee from the police or fight with the police or store security.”
Pezick has high hopes that the law will reduce shoplifting and prevent pawn shops from taking on stolen items to sell.