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S.B. 553, which passed the California Legislature on Sept. 12, neither legalizes crimes, nor mentions criminal charges or fines for workers who confront shoplifters.
A previous version of the bill said employers were prohibited "from maintaining policies that require employees who are not dedicated safety personnel to confront active shooters or suspected shoplifters." This provision was removed in August.
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News about a string of "smash-and-grab" robberies at luxury stores in Los Angeles and San Francisco has gone viral in recent months, spurring social media claims that California lawmakers are passing bills to encourage these crimes.
A Sept. 5 Instagram post read, "California Democrats have proposed Bill 553, which makes it ILLEGAL to confront or fight back against looters, burglars and shoplifters. You’ll be fined nearly $20K if you attempt to stop these crimes. It puts every business at the mercy of criminals. This is totally INSANE!"
This post was flagged as part of Meta’s efforts to combat false news and misinformation on its News Feed. (Read more about our partnership with Meta, which owns Facebook and Instagram.)
However, California’s S.B. 553 neither legalizes crimes, nor mentions criminal charges or fines for workers who confront shoplifters.
Democratic state Sen. Dave Cortese introduced the bill in February and said it’s designed to help businesses and their employees prepare and prevent instances of workplace violence. The bill passed the California Legislature on Sept. 12, and awaits Gov. Gavin Newsom’s signature.
The bill requires employers to implement workplace violence prevention plans that include maintaining a log of violent incidents, training employees on workplace hazards and explaining procedures for responding to violent emergencies.
"S.B. 553 never, in any form, prohibited employees from doing security work as predesignated by their employer, and never impeded personnel from doing their job," Cortese said in a statement to PolitiFact.
A previous version of the bill included a provision that prohibited employers "from maintaining policies that require employees who are not dedicated safety personnel to confront active shooters or suspected shoplifters." But the bill did not say employees would be penalized for confronting thieves.
When the bill was amended in August, this provision and other references to shoplifting were removed. Cortese said this change was made "to eliminate any confusion regarding the bill's purpose, and as part of a negotiation with Cal/OSHA," or the California Division of Occupational Safety and Health.
"While the retail industry is still covered by the violence prevention provisions outlined in S.B. 553, retail shoplifting is no longer called out separately by S.B. 553," Cortese said.
The bill’s final version establishes workplace violence policies that cover all industries, he said.
We rate the claim that California’s S.B. 553 prohibits workers from confronting shoplifters False.
Email exchange with Allen Young, press secretary for California state Sen. Dave Cortese, Sept. 18, 2023
California Legislature, S.B. 553 - current version, Sept. 14, 2023
California Legislature, S.B. 553 - previous version, July 10, 2023
California state Sen. Dave Cortese, "Legislature Passes Senator Cortese's SB 553: Preventing Workplace Violence," Sept. 12, 2023
California state Sen. Dave Cortese, "Senator Cortese Announces Update on SB 553: Workplace Violence Prevention," Aug. 28, 2023
The Associated Press, "California bill does not make it illegal for employees to confront shoplifters," Sept. 15, 2023
Verify, "California bill wouldn’t make it illegal to confront shoplifters," Sept. 14, 2023
The Associated Press, "California targets smash-and-grabs with $267 million program aimed at ‘brazen’ store thefts," Sept. 15, 2023
The Los Angeles Times, "Newport Beach jeweler loses $250K in smash-and-grab," Sept. 15, 2023
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