California Businesses Lose Insurance as Crime Increases

California Businesses Lose Insurance as Crime Increases

Some California businesses may be losing their insurance policies over a rise in retail theft and other property crimes.

On Wednesday, California Governor Gavin Newsom met with community leaders from Oakland to discuss crime in the city and across the state. According to KRON-TV in San Francisco, the community leaders included Oakland Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce President Barbara Leslie, who warned of some small businesses in the city losing their insurance policies after experiencing several instances of retail theft or other property crime.

“Insurance was brought up as an opportunity to ask the governor to help with organizations and businesses that are losing their insurance because that is a really financial impact on small businesses that we need to address,” she said.

The remarks by Leslie came amid ongoing discussions of a rise in retail theft and shoplifting across different parts of California. According to the Public Policy Institute of California, in 2022, the state saw a 28.7 percent increase in commercial shoplifting from 2021 and 2020. Target also announced in September 2023, that it was closing down several stores in California over concerns of a rise in retail theft.

Retail theft
A customer shops at a Dollar General store on August 31, 2023, in Chicago, Illinois. In January 2024, Oakland community leaders met with California Governor Gavin Newsom and warned of the rise in retail theft in the state.
Scott Olson/Getty Images

“In this case, we cannot continue operating these stores because theft and organized retail crime are threatening the safety of our team and guests, and contributing to unsustainable business performance,” Target said in a statement.

Newsom recently announced new plans to combat retail theft and other property crime in California by increasing criminal penalties and police response. Additionally, in December, Newsom’s office said that the California Highway Patrol increased its response to organized retail theft by 310 percent throughout 2023. The number of arrests for retail theft also increased by 109 percent, Newsom’s office said.

“As reports of organized retail crime increase nationally, California is meeting the moment by leading more takedowns and making more arrests than ever before,” the governor said.

In a statement to Newsweek on Thursday, a spokesperson for Newsom’s office said, “building on the Governor’s efforts to improve public safety and quality of life in Oakland, Governor Newsom convened Oakland community leaders to listen to their firsthand concerns about an uptick in crime and blight in the city.

“Throughout the productive conversation, the Governor heard about community concerns and expressed his continued commitment to strengthen public safety and support the people of Oakland.”

In April 2023, a small business owner in Fresno told KMPH that her store, Lupita’s Boutique, was denied insurance coverage by her provider after filing four claims for retail theft. The owner, who wished to remain anonymous, said: “It gets to you, it makes me sad about what’s happening, but we have no choice but to get up every day, leave it in God’s hands and keep giving it your all.”

Newsweek reached out to the Oakland Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce via email for comment.

Update 1/18/24, 11:25 a.m. ET: This story has been updated with a statement from Newsom’s office.