780's unintended consequences; Tulsa now the top place for thefts at Quik Trip stores

    780's unintended consequences; Tulsa now the top place for thefts at Quik Trip stores (KTUL)<p>{/p}

    It doesn’t get more Tulsa than Quik Trip.

    QT is everywhere here, but while the stores may be favorite of yours, they’re also a favorite target for crooks.

    “Being from Tulsa, Oklahoma, having our headquarters here, we’re kind of embarrassed by how bad crime is getting right now,” said Mike Thornbrugh, spokesperson for QT.

    Thornbrugh said thefts skyrocketed not long after Oklahoma voters approved ‘State Question 780.’

    There are QT’s all over the country and Thornbrugh said, “We’ll tell you Tulsa, Oklahoma is the worst in regards to property crime in any city or state that we operate."

    During the campaign, State Question 780 was framed as a sane, compassionate way of dealing with low-level drug offenses and property crimes. Instead of looking at those crimes as being felonies, they would be reclassified as misdemeanors, carrying much lower sentences. 780 supporters said it was a smart way to reduce Oklahoma’s spiraling prison population and help offenders struggling with addiction and mental illnesses.

    “I believe the idea of this was genuine and filled with good intentions,” said Tulsa County Sheriff, Vic Regalado.

    Regalado said it’s not just Quik Trip that’s seen property crimes increase, but stores and homes all across green country.

    “We’ve essentially given a license to steal (for) a lot of repeat offenders,” said Regalado.

    The flip side to 780 was 781. The measure would provide funding to help house those criminals and support organizations providing substance abuse and mental health treatment.

    “I have yet to see that come to fruition, I will open the door and say maybe these things are in place, I’m just not aware of them yet,” said Regalado.

    He is right the 781 money isn’t there. Last July was when the new funding could be set aside, but state lawmakers never put any money into the fund.

    “Has the jail become less crowded since the passage of this?” asked Channel 8’s I-team.

    “No it hasn’t- contrary to popular believe, holding was pretty steady around 1,500 before the passage of this,” said Regalado.

    He said if someone gets too many misdemeanors, judges may get fed up and send them to jail but there’s a catch.

    “Guess what, under misdemeanors the maximum punishment allowed is one year in the county jail,” said Regalado.

    As for Quik Trip, the company has hired special security. It’s been helping stop a lot of theft, but that costs money.

    “Are we losing money? The answer is no, because here’s why. Any business that has loss, you’ve got to run your business and operate on a certain gross margin. You’ve got to raise your prices and pass it on to the consumer,” said Thornbrugh.

    Both said, change is good and Oklahoma needs to tackle criminal justice reform, but they aren’t sure this was the way to do it.

    According to information from the Oklahoma Policy Institute, felony convictions have dropped over the years which is directly tied to state question 780, so the law is working as intended.

    However, the concern for some is not he intention of the law, but the unintended consequences.

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