Republicans propose enhancing charges for organized ‘smash-and-grab’ retail theft
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retail theft
'Large-scale, smash-and-grab retail theft is a plague on businesses across America.'

Two Republican lawmakers are doing what they can to discourage mass retail theft in the Sunshine State.

The videos, shown on social media platforms and nightly newscasts, are hard to miss: a large number of masked people sow chaos as they invade a store, smash displays and make off with valuable goods.

How often these “flash mobs” have been striking is hard to quantify, as they are classified in different ways among various jurisdictions, National Public Radio reports. Also, “organized retail theft” is not currently a category in the state’s uniform crime reporting.

The most common footage comes from California and Philadelphia. But Republicans Sen. Blaise Ingoglia of Spring Hill and Rep. Bob Rommel of Naples filed identical bills in Florida (SB 824, HB 549) that would lower the threshold for felony charges involving retail theft.

As it is now, retail theft classified as a third-degree felony must involve lifting property valued at $750 or more or committed five times within a 30-day period involving 10 or more items.

The bill proposes to classify any sort of retail theft, committed with five or more other people as a felony, also. Also, the felony charge could be applied if three incidents, dropped from five of them, occurred within a year (expanded from a 30-day threshold) if it involved 10 or more items stolen.

A smash-and-grab at Cash America Pawn in Broward County caught on camera earlier this year doesn’t meet the five-person threshold, but a trio that burst in and smashed a case appears to have stolen more than 10 items.

“Large-scale, smash-and-grab retail theft is a plague on businesses across America.” Ingoglia said. “Often organized online, they involve a blatant disregard for private property. This is not California.”

The bill’s language specifically singles out incidents that aim to overwhelm a retail establishment’s security. The problem is likely aggravated by another aspect of America’s online life. The Internet has expanded the number of outlets for selling stolen goods.

But Ingoglia and Rommel are undeterred.

“The state of Florida is a law and order state that will not stand for such criminal actions and will prosecute the crooks to the fullest extent of the law,” a prepared statement from Ingoglia reads

The bill calls for including requiring the guilty to pay businesses back not only the cost of what was stolen, but also making good on what was damaged during the pandemonium.

“In many cities across America, we have seen flash mobs steal products, cause millions of dollars in damage and even cause owners to close their business,” Rommel said. “If they try that in Florida, they will go to jail. If you are the person sending out the order on social media, you will be just as guilty as the criminals stealing and destroying.”

Anne Geggis

Anne Geggis is a South Florida journalist who began her career in Vermont and has worked at the Sun-Sentinel, the Daytona Beach News-Journal and the Gainesville Sun covering government issues, health and education. She was a member of the Sun-Sentinel team that won the 2019 Pulitzer Prize for coverage of the Parkland high school shooting. You can reach her on Twitter @AnneBoca or by emailing [email protected].


  • Earl Pitts "The Ronald's Un-Official Campaign Manager" American

    December 11, 2023 at 6:59 pm

    Great proposed legislation my Patriots. Now be sure to get it to the Govorner’s desk. And dont let your Dook 4 Brains Leftist and Rino lawmakers oppisition frighten you.

    • rick whitaker

      December 11, 2023 at 7:37 pm


  • tom palmer

    December 11, 2023 at 7:41 pm

    the bill’s sponsors tell me all I need to know

    • Impeach Biden

      December 11, 2023 at 7:46 pm

      What would you do to combat this? Let them continue to smash and steal? Is this how Dems get votes?

    • rick whitaker

      December 11, 2023 at 9:01 pm

      tom, why would either side not want enhance charges. i’m for huge sentences for stealing, especially white collar theft. politicians that steal should get triple sentences. put them in state prisons though, not in private prisons. it’s too easy to buy privileges in private prisons. desantis should have a cell waiting on him.

  • George

    December 11, 2023 at 8:10 pm

    We’ll need to build new prisons. They’re overcrowded as it is. Guards understaffed. Sounds like something the private prison industry would love. Even make political contributions for.

    • Impeach Biden

      December 11, 2023 at 8:19 pm

      Better than letting them run lawless through “Blue” cities.

    • rick whitaker

      December 11, 2023 at 8:49 pm

      george, private prisons are real bad. accountability is important.

  • Michael K

    December 12, 2023 at 9:50 am

    More fear-mongering from radical right wing Republicans: Live in constant fear! Don’t travel. Hate anyone who does not look like you. Don’t touch that dial. Buy gold. Support authoritarianism. The end is near.

    Meanwhile, watch your wallet and your civil rights, skyrocketing insurance, destruction of public educaiton and reproductive rights.

Comments are closed.


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