Gov. Ron DeSantis pledges support for increasing retail theft penalties

by | Feb 13, 2024

Gov. Ron DeSantis announced his support for proposed legislation in Florida that would increase penalties for organized retail theft and porch piracy, targeting “smash-and-grab” thefts and the use of social media to organize such crimes

Gov. Ron DeSantis announced on Tuesday his support for legislation aimed at heightening penalties for retail theft and porch piracy.

The legislation, carried by Rep. Bob Rommel in the House and Sen. Jay Trumbull in the Senate, proposes stricter penalties for those involved in organized retail theft. Specifically, the bills introduce a framework for escalated charges based on the nature of the theft.

“If you commit a crime in Florida, you are going to be held accountable,” said DeSantis. “We will not tolerate retail crime, porch pirates and lawlessness.”

The measures additionally target organized “smash-and-grab” thefts, where groups use social media to plan and execute thefts from retailers. The bill classifies participating in these thefts with five or more people as a third-degree felony, while using social media to organize the thefts is considered a second-degree felony. Harsher penalties, including first-degree felony charges, would be put in place for those with previous retail theft convictions or those carrying a firearm during the crime.

Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody and Florida Department of Law Enforcement Commissioner Mark Glass also expressed their support for the measures, highlighting the need for proactive steps to combat retail theft and protect the state’s economy.

“Florida is a law-and-order state, and we take action when we see concerning crime trends that could harm Floridians,” said Moody. “We are leaders in the fight against organized retail theft, and I’m thrilled to stand with Governor DeSantis today to continue our goal of stopping theft by supporting legislation to stamp out porch piracy.”

The push for tougher penalties comes as small business retailers nationwide report increasing challenges related to theft. According to data provided by the Executive Office of the Governor, referencing a national study conducted by Forbes, 41 percent of small business retailers said the value of items stolen in 2023 has increased compared to previous years, 75 percent of small business retailers reported monthly losses between $500 and $2,500 due to theft., and 85 percent of small business retailers said they experience theft at least once a year, and just 5% of small business retailers report never experiencing theft.

“Governor DeSantis continues to strengthen Florida laws to fight organized retail theft, cracking down on the kind of professional shoplifting that we’ve seen plague other states,” said Florida Department of Law Enforcement Commissioner Mark Glass. “He is ensuring Florida will stay safe for families, prosperous for our businesses and a paradise for our visitors.”


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