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Do Gun Laws Affect the Rate of Organized Retail Crime? We Compare California and Arizona



The data shows that retail theft and armed robbery occur at higher rates in California than in Arizona, which has some of the least restrictive gun laws in the U.S. (Shutterstock)
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Organized retail theft is on the rise, hitting California so hard that Gov. Gavin Newsom is pouring hundreds of millions in taxpayer money into a crackdown announced last week.

But a question arises.

How does retail theft in California, which has some of the nation’s toughest gun laws, compare to the same crime in Arizona?

Unlike California, neighboring Arizona is an “open carry” state and also issues conceal-and-carry permits to any qualified individual over the age of 21.

We’ll let you decide what conclusions to draw from the data.

Theft, Shoplifting, Robbery in California vs. Arizona

According to the California Criminal Justice Statistics Center, the state experienced a 7.7% increase in larceny theft in 2022 with 1,480.3 incidents per 100,000 residents.

Meanwhile, Arizona Crime Statistics reports 1,411.2 incidents per 100,000, a 13.71% decrease from 2021.

California also reported a 10.2% increase in robbery, experiencing 112.3 occurrences per 100,000 people. Robbery with a firearm occurred 35.1 times per 100,000.

Such crimes occur at much lower rates in Arizona. It reported 67.6 robberies per 100,000 population and 6.7 robberies with a firearm per 100,000.

However, Arizona has twice as much shoplifting per capita as California. Arizona reported 427 shoplifting incidents for 100,000 people, while California reported 210 per 100,000.

Organized Retail Theft Cost Retailers $100 Billion in 2022

According to National Retail Federation President Matt Shay, organized retail crime is a far bigger problem for stores than shoplifting. And, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce states that “in 2022, retailer losses, or shrink, amounted to nearly $100 billion dollars, of which organized retail crime is a significant driver.”

The Chamber also notes that 32 states have passed legislation to address organized retail crime.

“These laws range from establishing organized retail crime task forces to defining organized retail crime as a separate offense,” the Chamber said.

CHP Lead Effort to Lower Organized Retail Crime

The California Highway Patrol is leading the state’s crackdown on organized retail crime, creating an Organized Retail Crime Task Force in 2019. Now, Newsom is tripling CHP support in the Los Angeles area to help combat retail crime.

And, in Fresno, the CHP also is stepping up to tackle the problem. On Aug. 12-13, the CHP worked with retail loss prevention experts to make 51 arrests in Fresno and Kern counties, targeting organized retail crime. The three blitz operations recovered 697 items with an estimated value of more than $58,000.

“The state is investing hundreds of millions of dollars to crack down on organized crime and when our local partners need further assistance, we’re ready with a helping hand. The CHP is the proven leader in tackling organized retail theft and through this expanded partnership the agency will further assist the city in doing its job to keep Angelenos and their businesses safe,” Newsom said in a news release.

As for whether gun laws affect crime, here’s what the FBI told The Washington Post in 2021: “Since crime is a sociological phenomenon influenced by a variety of factors, the FBI discourages ranking locations or making comparisons as a way of measuring law enforcement effectiveness.”


Anya Ellis began working for GV Wire in July 2023. The daughter of journalists, Anya is a Fresno native and Buchanan High School graduate. She is currently at the University of California, Berkeley, majoring in film and media studies and minoring in creative writing. She plans to pursue her masters in screenwriting after graduating. You can contact Anya at

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