New Jersey Republican Senators Jon Bramnick and Anthony Bucco say they will introduce new legislation which would target flash mob shoplifters who ransack stores and destroy small businesses.
“We’re seeing more and more instances where flash mobs of shoplifters have run through clothing stores, pharmacies, and even a 7-Eleven recently where they smash and grab anything that isn’t bolted down,” Bramnick said.
“If people want to do these crimes, they need to get the message that their next flash mob will be in jail.”
The bill creates the third-degree crime of gang shoplifting, which would be punishable by at least a year in jail during which the person would not be eligible for parole.
The senators said the organized looting of stores seems to be happening most in California as a result of the state’s decision not to prosecute most shoplifting crimes in recent years.
Videos of the incidents shared on social media have led to copycat crimes in a growing number of places across the country, including New York City, with groups of looters brazenly entering stores with duffel bags and even suitcases that they fill with stolen goods before leaving.
“We’re seeing a combination of organized criminal gangs and flash mobs planned on social media that have the ability to destroy a business in a matter of minutes,” added Bucco.
“These crimes have the greatest impact on struggling urban communities that already have a hard time attracting and keeping grocery stores and pharmacies to serve their residents. With videos of these incidents widespread on TikTok and social media, New Jersey won’t be safe unless people know they’ll face real jail time for participating.”
The new legislation will be introduced at the next Senate quorum.