Those who commit so-called “smash and grab” retail thefts could face increased penalties under a measure signed into law last month.
Under the new law, someone who steals 20 or more items, through five or more separate thefts within a certain period, can be charged with a second-degree felony.
Also, anyone who steals 10 or more items, through at least five thefts within a certain period, can be charged with a third-degree felony.
According to Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody, the measure is intended to break up organized retail theft rings.
“While prosecutors in other states may turn a blind eye to these massive retail crimes, in Florida we enforce the law to protect our citizens and visitors,” Moody said. “This new law will help us continue this important work and enhance public safety.”
Hernando County Sheriff Al Nienhuis applauded the new law.
“Property crimes, like shoplifting and car burglaries, that are done by traveling organized groups can have a real impact on a neighborhood or community,” Nienhuis said. “These individuals and groups who are serial shoplifters, for example, significantly increase the cost of products to the average consumer. Sending a clear message, through significantly enhanced penalties, is the only thing that will have a real impact on an otherwise lucrative crime.”
The new law becomes effective on Oct. 1.