Multi-recidivist theft in trade in Spain costs Public Administrations 300 million euros per year, according to estimates contained in the Position Paper on this scourge approved by the Board of Directors of CEOE at the initiative of the C4 (Competitiveness Commission, Commerce and consumption). Taking into account the evolution of complaints, suspended trials and sentences, it is concluded that this practice goes free to the professional offender, is a waste for the Public Administrations, an unnecessary extra cost for the citizen and the demotivation of the State Security Forces and Bodies .

The impunity of organized gangs dedicated to theft in commerce has increased after two Supreme Court sentences that took place in 2017 and in which it is considered that theft is a criminal copyright, which means that punishment should be punished. same the first theft as the following up to an indeterminate number. This has resulted in sentences for repeated theft being limited to the payment of fines, which are rarely effective, and that the rate of complaints remains at around 700,000 a year without having consequences for criminals.

The reality today is that there is no legal tool to fight against multi-recidivism of less than 400 euros. This has resulted in organized gangs operating with impunity in the face of the impotence of all affected actors: citizens, who have seen their insecurity increased; the merchants, who are estimated to lose about 1.8 billion euros * per year and fear for the safety of their employees; and the police forces, which do not see the fruit of their work. It should be noted that the thefts are carried out by organized gangs that are looking for high-value products, such as bottles of alcohol or quality sausages, and that they find easy to exit on the black market.

Given this situation, CEOE demands the modification of the Criminal Code and the Criminal Procedure Law for the Execution of Minor Crimes with the objective of gaining operability:

  • Criminal Code Reform: The proposal consists in adding to Article 235 two points, bis and ter, for which, when there are two theft crimes under 400 euros, a fine of 1 to 3 months and an order of removal can be imposed. And, in case of a third crime for theft, impose a prison sentence of 6 to 18 months and restraining order.
  • Criminal Procedure Law for the Execution of Minor Crimes:
  • That the judge impose sentence in voce when the defendant attends trial and agrees with the penalty. In addition, it will require the payment of the fine in the room and will make the necessary legal warnings in accordance with Art. 48 of the Criminal Code.
  • The judge will require the convicted person to pay the fine within 30 days with reductions for prompt payment. Otherwise, the penalty of fine will be automatically replaced by 1 day in prison for every two unpaid fines.
  • The judge will require the State Security Forces and Bodies to notify on-site trial summons, sentences, etc. to people who have them pending when they identify them. For this, it is necessary that the courts have a database with all the information of these people updated.

The economic and social impact of the problem of multi-recurring theft in trade is not a problem of the sector, but of society as a whole, to which it is possible to put measures. An example was the reform of the Criminal Code that took place in 2015. It provided that the commission of four offenses in less than one year was transformed into a crime and introduced an aggravated rate applicable to multi-recidivism. Although the problem of theft was not fully resolved, the results were very positive as confidence in the legal tools provided by the system was regained.

>> Position document on multi-recidivist theft in commerce in Spain

* AECOC and EY study data on the loss in commercial retail 2018 between theft and administrative errors.

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