State News

Posted: May 21, 2024 11:46 AMUpdated: May 21, 2024 11:46 AM

State Senate Approves Daniels' Public Safety Bill

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Nathan Thompson

The Oklahoma Senate on Monday gave final passage to legislation that will protect frontline employees and businesses from retail and commercial theft.

Senate Bill 1735 from Sen. Julie Daniels, R-Bartlesville, and Rep. Terry O’Donnell, R-Catoosa, expands the definition of second-degree burglary to include entering areas of a business commonly reserved for personnel and those that are clearly marked as being for employees only.

A person who enters such a restricted area with the intent to commit a crime may be charged with a misdemeanor for the first offense. Subsequent offenses would result in felony charges.

“Protecting employees and customers from retail theft is critically important to public safety,” Daniels said. “Many of these crimes are not random acts by individuals but coordinated crimes by highly organized enterprises. As thieves become bolder, the incidents escalate, increasing the threat of injury to people inside these businesses.”

SB 1735 is now awaiting action from the governor.

"Retail thefts occurring in spaces restricted to employees – such as behind the counter or stockrooms – are those that tend to become violent," O'Donnell said. "This legislation puts deterrents in place but also ensures appropriate punishments against perpetrators of these crimes, particularly those that commit repeat offenses."

Daniels and O’Donnell have already passed and the governor has signed Senate Bill 1877, which allows law enforcement to aggregate the value of stolen items over a 180-day period in order to identify organized retail thefts and target repeat offenders. The previous aggregation period was 90 days.

“We want law enforcement and prosecutors to have the opportunity to identify repeat offenders, patterns of criminal activity and look for trends that could be helpful in shutting down more criminal enterprises,” Daniels said.

Both bills resulted from discussions with the Public Safety Alliance of Oklahoma. Supporters include QuikTrip, Oklahoma Petroleum Marketers and Convenience Store Association, Oklahoma Grocers Association, District Attorneys Council and the Public Safety Alliance of Oklahoma.

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