Griffey bill seeks to reduce rampant shoplifting in Washington state


Some retailers say they've had enough. Shoplifting laws, they say, are just not strong enough. They're being robbed, losing millions of dollars, and they feel powerless. However, one state lawmaker may have the answer. John Sattgast reports from Olympia.

SATTGAST (:92) Under current Washington law, loss prevention officers and law enforcement cannot apprehend a suspected shoplifter until the thief has exited the establishment with the merchandise.

Retailers say shoplifters stand at the front door with a basket full of products, knowing nothing can be done until they leave the store. It's gotten so bad, Bartell Drugs say they will no longer open new stores in downtown Seattle.

Representative Dan Griffey of Allyn is doubling down on his efforts to get legislation approved that would help retailers crack down on this type of crime. Griffey says all too often, these crimes involve individuals with substance abuse and mental health disorders.

GRIFFEY (:26) “I don't think it's a good, loving position to say that somebody's in a bad place. We're going to let them just rob the stores blind and not give the stores any resources. I think that it is time to show the love that we should show to people that are going through some terrible problems – those are battling addiction – and let law enforcement officers engage with them, lower the retail theft problem that we have in Washington state. And then we can engage in services.”

SATTGAST: Griffey's House Bill 1159 would target shoplifters by modifying the definition of “theft” to include the crime of concealment. This occurs when someone hides merchandise under clothing, or in pockets or bags, with the intent of stealing.

The 35th District Republican's bill has not advanced during this legislative session. However, Griffey is working to get support for next year to resurrect and pass the measure, and finally provide the means necessary to reduce shoplifting in Washington state.

John Sattgast, Olympia

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