'Law and order state:' Gov. Ron DeSantis visits Stuart to announce retail theft crackdown

DeSantis signs law strengthing penalties for retail theft, 'porch pirates'
Posted at 9:27 AM, Apr 09, 2024

STUART, Fla. — Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis on Tuesday visited a Walgreens pharmacy in Stuart to sign a new law cracking down on retail theft.

HB 549 increases penalties for those who commit retail theft, along with so-called "porch pirates" who steal packages from in front of people's homes.

"We in Florida have been very clear. We're a law and order state," DeSantis said. "If you do the crime, you're gonna do the time."

WATCH: DeSantis speaks at Walgreens in Stuart

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis speaks at Stuart Walgreens

The governor said that nationwide, 88% of retailers polled have reported that shoplifters are more aggressive and violent compared with several years ago. He added that the losses incurred by stores due to retail theft have forced some businesses to close or raise their prices.

"If they're not able to sell those goods, if those are losses, they gotta find a way to compensate," DeSantis said. "So you end up seeing rising prices when you go into the store."

The new law signed Tuesday also includes enhanced penalties for retail theft rings of five or more people. It also makes it a second-degree felony for anyone using social media to solicit others to participate in retail theft.

In addition, it's a first-degree felony if a person commits retail theft with a firearm.

"We don't want to see stores go out of business. We don't want to see prices increase," DeSantis said. "And we certainly don't want to treat every retail establishment as if every item needs to be under a lock and key just so that they're not looted without end."

DeSantis was joined at Tuesday's news conference by Attorney General Ashley Moody.

Attorney General Ashley Moody discusses new retail theft law at Stuart Walgreens, April 9, 2024
Attorney General Ashley Moody touts the new retail theft law during an April 9, 2024, news conference at a Walgreens pharmacy in Stuart, Fla.

"We are doing what Florida does best," Moody said. "We are being proactive."