AURORA, Colo. (KDVR) — Shoplifters in Aurora could now face three days in jail if an ordinance passes through the city council.
The Aurora City Council held a meeting Monday night and voted on the first reading of an ordinance to crack down on shoplifting. The first reading of the ordinance was passed on a 6-3 vote.
Essentially this ordinance would create a separate theft category for retail theft in the city of Aurora.
It would institute a mandatory minimum sentence for people 18-and-up of three days in jail for theft of any goods or merchandise over $300.
The proposal was brought forward by councilmember Danielle Jurinsky, Aurora Police Department Division Chief Cassidee Carlson, and Public Safety Client Group Manager of the City Attorney’s Office Pete Schulte.
Opponent councilmember Juan Marcano questioned the lack of a fiscal note attached to the proposal. Mayor Mike Coffman also expressed concern about the lack of financial research on costs associated with putting more people in jail.
“It seems troubling to me that we wouldn’t be able to estimate a cost like this beforehand. The parameters are pretty clear of what we’re trying to do here. We should be able to look into a database of sorts or records and make at least a ballpark estimate as to what that will run,” Marcano said.
“We are talking about the criminals or the alleged criminals. This ordinance is about the victims, it’s about the business owners in this city. I refuse to let this ordinance get hijacked to talk about the criminals. So I’m going to talk about the victims, and I’m gonna talk about the business owners and whatever the cost is for somebody to sit in our jail for three days. I guarantee you it’s probably minimal,” Jurinsky said.
In the meeting, some concerned councilmembers asked Jurinsky if she had first looked into alternatives to incarceration.
“In this city, the message has been made very clear starting with the motor vehicle theft ordinance. You still in this city you steal anything, a car, you steal from a store, you commit any theft in this city you are going to jail. That is the message. And for my colleagues, I want to continue to talk about the criminals and side with the criminals, have at it,” Jurinsky said.
“Have you considered a diversion program with electronic monitoring, monitoring, and work requirements or job training requirement instead of incarceration? The reason I ask is because I think we all share the goal of wanting to hold people accountable and discourage bad behavior. But jail is where you send people if you want them to become better criminals, whether it’s for three days or for 60 days or 120 days. Jail is literally the worst thing you can do to actually change behavior and make the city safer. Diversion programs are much more effective, not just in terms of outcomes, but also in terms of cost,” Marcano said.
Mayor Pro Tem Françoise Bergan supported the proposal and said that the costs and detriments to the businesses outweigh those concerns.
“What is the fiscal impact to the small business owners all the business owners actually that have continued theft happening,” Bergan said. “We do represent our small businesses. Those businesses actually employ people, people that also depend on the livelihood of having that job. So I am completely in support of this. We’re talking of three-day jail sentence. We’re not It’s not comparable to the motor vehicle theft of 60 days or 120 days. Don’t steal. That’s the message Don’t steal. And it’s $300 and above so we’re not talking about somebody stealing, you know, milk or anything like that we’re talking about a pretty hefty amount.”
This was the first reading, there will be a second reading of this ordinance.