Sacramento city attorney reportedly threatened to fine Target store for reporting theft crimes

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The City of Sacramento, California’s legal department threatened to fine a popular retail store for public nuisance over numerous calls to police after thieves stole from its Land Park location multiple times, according to a report.

The Sacramento Bee reported that a person with knowledge of the warning who wanted to remain anonymous out of fear they could be retaliated against, said Sacramento officials warned they would issue an administrative fine to the Target at 2505 Riverside Boulevard in Land Park, during the past year.

A police spokesperson confirmed the location to the publication after being asked about the alleged warning.

After learning about the city’s warning and comparable actions across the state, state lawmakers added an amendment to a retail theft bill, outlawing these types of threats toward businesses from authorities.

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Gov. Gavin Newsom, Assembly Speaker Robert Rivas, and Senator Mike McGuire are pushing a package with 14 bills that tighten penalties on retail theft offenses. The lawmakers believe their legislation will help deal with retail theft crimes, rather than pass changes to Proposition 47.

Last month, California’s Secretary of State announcedthat petitioners had garnered more than enough signatures to place a measure to reform Proposition 47 on the November ballot. Prop 47, a voter-approved initiative passed in 2014, loosened the penalties for drug and theft crimes in California and has been blamed for California’s rampant theft problems.

Shortly after the measure to reform Prop 47 was approved, legislators in the Democrat-controlled Capitol in Sacramento began debating legislation that they say would address crime in the state. Critics say the move is essentially a “poison pill” that Democrats will use to discourage people from voting to fix Prop 47 in November by arguing that doing so would undo the legislation that combats crime.

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“Newsom keeps insisting that reports of theft are dropping – well now we know why. Not only are thieves let off without even a slap on the wrist, but now the victims are being threatened for even reporting crimes,” California Assembly GOP Leader James Gallagher told Fox News Digital. “Everyone can see that Newsom’s pro-criminal policies are a failure – no matter how much his allies try to cover it up.”

Criminal defense attorney Nicole Castronova also weighed in on the matter, telling Fox News Digital politicians in California are leaving citizens out to dry, as “crime begets crime.”

“Lawmakers have allowed smash and grab robberies to terrorize our cities. As a consequence, retailers are leaving major cities in droves – taking jobs with them,” she said.

Castronova explained that losing jobs directly correlates to an increase in crime.

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She also said retailers are being victimized by the government for failing to protect them.

“Now the government seeks to silence those retailers and, in turn, manufacturers lower crime rates,” Castronova said. “No citizen should ever be penalized for lawfully calling upon its government for protection.”

Alexander Gammelgard, president of the California Police Chiefs Association, testified during the State Assembly’s first retail theft committee meeting in December, saying he was surprised anyone would ever attempt to make a nuisance case out of someone calling to report a legitimate crime.

“I don’t think there is a place for that,” Gammelgard said.

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It is not clear why the city attorney, Susana Alcala Wood, and her office would issue warnings to businesses like Target, seeking assistance from police. Her office did not respond to Fox News Digital’s request for comment.

California State University, Stanislaus criminal justice professor Blake Randol told the Sacramento Bee he found the situation in Sacramento to be disconcerting. He told the publication the city has a responsibility to help residents, and if the city were to threaten public nuisance for reporting crimes, it could deter a business from making a report.

Randol also said city officials may issue warnings to make it look like crime statistics are going down.

“What’s problematic is that what Target is complaining about is a legitimate crime concern,” Randol told the Sacramento Bee. “The city does have a responsibility to be more responsive to the public and be responsive to crime control demands from the public.”

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The location in question has drawn criticism from the local community, as reported by a local CBS station.

Sacramento City Councilman Rick Jennings II, city police and the city attorney’s office reportedly put together a plan after seeing the reports, to meet with the retail store and produce a safety plan to mitigate incidents, the Sacramento Bee discovered through a public records request.

“It would be great to be at the store and show what we have actually [been] working on to address the concern raised most recently in all the news this week,” Alex Garcia, a former director of Target’s governmental affairs, wrote in an email regarding past news coverage. The note was sent to Dennis Rodgers, Jennings’ chief-of-staff. 

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As a result of the collaboration, the Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design was created to address concerns brought up in the reports.

The plan also included “placement of security measures such as alarms, cameras, and security personnel” along with the implementation of “light fixtures, landscaping, wayfinding and space activation measures,” the internal communications reportedly showed.

During the meetings, city officials also got a chance to discuss their “concerns” with Target, which also acknowledged its “problems,” according to a statement from Jennings.

The concerns raised, though, are still vague.

Fox News Digital reached out to both Target and the City of Sacramento for a statement but did not immediately hear back.

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The publication reported that data from the police department shows city law enforcement officials saw an increase in theft, robbery and shoplifting at the city’s three Target locations during 2023.

In 2023, Target locations in Sacramento reportedly had 375 calls for service for theft, robbery and shoplifting, compared to the 80 crimes reported for theft, robbery and shoplifting by Sacramento police in 2023.

 Fox News Digital’s Andrew Mark Miller contributed to this report.