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Assembly Minority Leader Jon Bramnick. (Photo: Kevin Sanders for New Jersey Globe)

Bramnick wants gang-related shoplifters to spend minimum of one year in jail

N.J. state senator wants to end ‘open stealing without fear of punishment’

By David Wildstein, September 01 2022 11:00 am

In a bid to curb the increase in flash mobs organizing the looting of retail stores, a key New Jersey lawmaker wants gang members convicted of shoplifting to spend one year in a state prison.

State Sen. Jon Bramnick (R-Westfield) is introducing legislation that would create a mandatory one-year minimum sentence for gang shoplifting, ending the presumption of non-imprisonment for certain offender.

“The open stealing without fear of punishment is an issue,” said Bramnick.

Bramnick grew up in a family whose livelihood might have been threatened by gang shoplifting.  The senator’s father, Herb Bramnick, owned a small retail stationary store in Plainfield.

Under Bramnick’s proposal, gang shoplifting would be a third degree crime with a prison sentence of 3 to 5 years and a fine of up to $15,000.  There would be no eligibility for parole during the first year.

“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.”

At the local level, an increase of shoplifting and auto thefts have become a top issue of concern for residents.

According to the National Retail Federation, organized retail crime, sometimes known as smash-and-grab, has sometimes been tied to transnational crime rings.

CVS has reported a 300% increase in retail theft since the start of the pandemic, Axios has reported.

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