The Republican mayor of a Northern California city where a pair of 7-Eleven store clerks fought back against a thief who was seen on video threatening them and ransacking the business before being beaten by the employees, said authorities are investigating the viral incident, while also criticizing a state law many have said enables thieves to act without consequence.
Stockton Mayor Kevin Lincoln issued a statement Tuesday, saying the case involving the suspect and two Sikh employees for the convenience store chain is being looked at and will be referred to the San Joaquin County District Attorney's Office once completed.
Video footage captured by a customer shows a man wearing a mask dumping cigarettes into a giant trash can over the weekend. At one point, the suspect appeared to threaten to shoot the people inside. The two employees eventually turned the table on the alleged thief and began beating him with what appeared to be a stick while he was on the floor.
"I believe [the workers] were frustrated, emotions were high, but I believe they did was courageous and did the right thing," Louis Benton, who recorded the incident, previously told Fox News Digital. "Instead of taking a gun or taking something that could really harm him. And I'm glad the guy hit them below the belt. Not above the belt, but also to, you know, has come to a point where I know it was enough."
In his statement, Lincoln noted that Proposition 47, a voter-approved measure, downgraded charges pertaining to certain theft and drug possession crimes from a felony to a misdemeanor if the value of the stolen goods is less than $950.
The measure was ushered in by voters in 2014, and has been blamed for the many brazen smash-and-grab thefts and shoplifting incidents plaguing cities up and down California.
"It has essentially legalized theft and open drug use in California, culminating in these unbelievable smash-and-grab robberies," former state Assemblyman elected U.S. Rep. Kevin Kiley, R-Calif., told Fox News Digital last year. "Voters were egregiously misled about what this would do."
"The law hinders businesses daily by increasing shoplifting and decreasing our law enforcement's ability to hold accountable those responsible for such acts," Mayor Lincoln said. "These kinds of California state laws continue to impact communities."
On Tuesday, San Joaquin District Attorney Ron Freitas said the two 7-Eleven employees have never been considered suspects by his office.
"Any Investigation going forward is to hold accountable the individual who threatened and attempted to rob them," he said.