Dallas County District Attorney John Creuzot issued a statement Wednesday to clarify his stance on the prosecution of theft of personal items valued at less than $750, a day after Texas Gov. Greg Abbott called the approach "reckless and irresponsible."
Creuzot said the biggest misconception might have come from the interpretation of the term "personal items."
The policy is to avoid prosecuting people who commit thefts out of desperation due to hunger and poverty, he said.
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"I previously stated that we will not prosecute theft of personal items less than $750 unless the evidence shows that the alleged theft was for economic gain," Creuzot said.
Abbott took issue with Creuzot's stance, saying it essentially legalized theft of property valued at less than $750.
"What kind of message does that send for one?" Abbott said. "But for another, listen if your district attorney wants to change the law, he is in the wrong job. He needs to run for the legislature and come here to try and change the law. His job, his oath, is to enforce the law that exists and he should prosecute anybody for stealing anything."
Creuzot he settled on the amount of $750 because that is the top end of a theft classified as a Class B misdemeanor. That range starts at $105. He added that someone who shoplifted for economic gain would still be prosecuted.
Creuzot used the example of a woman who was charged with a theft of $105, who was kept in jail for nearly two months, which he said cost taxpayers $3,300. He said he did not feel that it was the best use of taxpayer money.
Creuzot said he has not directed any police departments to stop making arrests for thefts or any other offense for which there is probable cause.