Partisan politics stalls Rep. Griffey’s bill to help retailers fight shoplifting

Rep. Dan Griffey’s bill to fight organized retail theft will not move further this year after it was held up in the state House of Representatives. Despite Griffey’s determination to see House Bill 1159 get to the House floor, the majority party chose not to consider it in front of the full House chamber.

“It’s very unfortunate and frustrating when politics get in the way of good legislation being able to move forward,” said Griffey, R-Allyn. “This bill should’ve become law last year, but I’m not giving up. We’ll have to try again next year.”

Griffey originally introduced the bill, which would give retailers a major boost in their efforts to curb shoplifting, during the 2019 session. But it stalled last year, as well, after some legislators expressed concern it would lead to racial profiling.

“This bill is not racially motivated in any way,” said Griffey.

House Bill 1159 would give retailers the ability to stop would-be shoplifters who conceal merchandise.

“Wouldn’t it be great if a retailer could approach someone who’s concealing items and simply say: ‘Excuse me? Are you going to pay for that?’” added Griffey.

Griffey’s legislation would change the definition of theft to include the crime of concealment. Concealment occurs when someone hides merchandise under clothing, or in pockets or bags, with the intent of stealing.

Under current law, retailers can’t do anything to prevent concealment, because the crime of shoplifting doesn’t actually occur until an individual has left the store. Anyone can gather as many items as they want with the intent to steal them, but retailers have no power to stop it.

“This bill makes complete sense. We need to change the definition of ‘theft’ to include the crime of concealment,” said Griffey. “It’s time to give retailers the ability to prevent shoplifting.”

Businesses lose millions of dollars every year due to theft, and this bill would make it possible for them to confront would-be shoplifters before they ever reach the exit.

“I’ve met with dozens of professionals from the retail industry over the last several years who want change,” added Griffey. “This legislation would be a huge win for these retailers. It would be an extremely valuable tool in helping them protect their assets.”

The 2020 legislative session is scheduled to end on March 12.


Washington State House Republican Communications