Gov. Newsom says Target worker blamed him for rampant retail theft in CA

"'There's - there's no accountability,'' Newsom said the worked told him and he answered, "That's just not true."

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Friday, February 2, 2024
Gov. Newsom says Target worker blamed him for retail theft in CA
Governor Gavin Newsom says a Target worker blamed him for rampant retail theft in California when he pointed out a shoplifting incident he witnessed.

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- A story shared by Governor Gavin Newsom is getting a lot of attention. He said he confronted a Target worker in the Sacramento area who didn't stop a thief from stealing.

Newsom told the story moments before a Wednesday press conference involving the mayors of California's big cities.

He said he had the encounter with the Target employee after seeing a shoplifter.

"He picks it up and keeps walking out as we're checking out," Newsom said of the shoplifter he said he witnessed, he then went on to what the employee said, "The woman says, 'Oh, he's just walking out,' 'He didn't pay for that' I said, 'Well, why don't you stop him?' She goes, 'Oh, the governor,'"

MORE: California's top attorney announces major blow to organized retail theft ring with ties to Bay Area

Newsom said that worker did not recognize him at first.

"The governor lowered the threshold,'' Newsom said the worker told him, "'There's - there's no accountability,' I said that's just not true."

Though Newsom didn't say what he saw the shoplifter steal or the value of it, he told the worker that at $950, California has the tenth toughest threshold in the U.S. for grand theft.

"She looks at me twice and then she freaks out," Newsom said of the moment the worker finally recognized him, "She calls everyone over, 'Who wants to take photos?' I'm like, 'No, I'm not taking a photo. We're having a conversation. Where's your manager? How are you blaming the governor?' And it was, you know, $380 later, and I was like, 'Why am I spending $380, everyone (else) can walk the hell right out.'"

MORE: Gov. Gavin Newsom to invest $267 million in several dozen cities to combat organized retail theft

The chairwoman of the California Republican Party responded to the clip of Newsom on X saying: "Shoutout to this store clerk for saying to the governor's face what every Californian has wanted to say: that he and his radical (California Democratic Party) buddies are to blame for CA's surging crime. Sadly, Newsom still didn't seem to take the hint."

According to state data, shoplifting totals in 2022 are higher than 2021 and 2020 but still lower than pre-pandemic levels.

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Political analyst and CSU East Bay professor Nolan Higdon says it's no surprise that as Governor Newsom is taking blame.

"Newsom has certainly been active in state politics here for years at this point. So he definitely bears some of the responsibility," Higdon said, "But a lot of the things that have to do with crime and or the lack of accountability when it comes to crime. These have been structural issues that are that are decades in the making."

In a response to ABC7 News, Newsom's office highlighted his efforts to address crime and improve public safety, including an annual 310% increase in proactive operation they say targets organized retail crime, and special operations across the state to fight crime and improve public safety.

Still, if crime rates go up, Higdon said it might only be more difficult for leaders in a blue state like California to defend their policies.

"Unlike nationally where you can blame Trump or blame Mitch McConnell, it's really tough to do that in a state like California and so Democrats have to own a lot of these problems," Higdon said, "And I think that's why you see him and others kind of struggling to find the right response for how to deal with it."

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