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New push to combat retail crimes in Palm Beach County

Palm Beach police car
Posted at 4:56 PM, Feb 22, 2022
and last updated 2022-02-22 19:02:13-05

PALM BEACH COUNTY, Fla. — A new effort to combat rising retail crimes. There's a new push to not just catch those responsible, but also increase the penalties.

Along Worth Avenue in Palm Beach, Charles Rogers, the owner of Only Authentics, is still working to recoup his losses.

"It’s been very difficult," Rogers said.

Back in December, his designer handbag boutique was hit twice. He said the smash and grab burglaries cost him more than $1 million.

"Impossible to replace those exact items because they were very unique and almost one of a kind," Rogers said.

Unfortunately, Rogers is not alone.

According to the Florida Retail Federation, 70% of retail store owners reported an increase in crime last year.

It's crime trend that now has the attention of state lawmakers. Last week, the Senate voted and unanimously approved SB 1534 aimed at beefing up the penalties for retail crimes.

If passed, the theft of 10 or more items from at least two different locations within 30 days would be a third-degree felony. 20 or more items becomes a second-degree felony.

"So many people over the last two years now have made crimes against poor store owners and people that are hard working trying to survive through all of this and they have gotten off with just a slap on the wrist," Rogers said.

The bill has the support of Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody. In a statement she said:

"We’ve seen the damage and disorder caused by brazen criminals across the country through terrifying smash-and-grab robberies, and we must continue to innovate to stay ahead of this national crime trend."

"It’s pretty scary to think about unless something changes. What’s going to happen in the next couple of years?" Rogers said.

If passed, the bill would take effect in October.