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Ciara O'Rourke
By Ciara O'Rourke August 29, 2023

Florida photo mischaracterized in posts about California property crimes law

If Your Time is short

  • This photo was taken at a store in Florida in 2022. 

Social media users are sharing an image of a man dragging multiple purses and other goods through automated sliding doors in connection with a California law that reclassified some nonviolent property crimes as misdemeanors. 

"Not long ago, the state of California passed Law 47, which made theft less of $950 a misdemeanor and often not investigated," text above the image says in a recent Instagram post. "Because of that people in the Bay Area are stealing left & right with no consequence."

This post was flagged as part of Meta’s efforts to combat false news and misinformation on its News Feed. (Read more about our partnership with Meta, which owns Facebook and Instagram.)

This photo wasn’t taken in the Bay Area. It was captured at a Burlington store in Hialeah, Florida, in November 2022. The suspect was later arrested on grounds he stole about $5,000 of merchandise. He was charged with third-degree grand theft, a felony. 

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Proposition 47 in California, meanwhile, was a ballot measure passed by voters in November 2014. It made some nonviolent property crimes misdemeanors, as long as the value of the stolen goods did not exceed $950, according to the Los Angeles County public defender’s office. That includes certain forgeries, commercial burglary and theft crimes. 

The law was enacted to comply with a 2011 California Supreme Court order that said California’s overcrowded prisons violated the U.S. Constitution’s Eighth Amendment against cruel and unusual punishment for criminal defendants, The Associated Press reported. The law’s goal was to limit the state’s prison population, Charis Kurbin, a criminology, law and society professor at the University of California, Irvine, told the news outlet.

We rate claims this photo shows a theft in California False.


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Florida photo mischaracterized in posts about California property crimes law

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