Late yesterday, the Senate gave bipartisan approval to House Bill 405 (Property Protection Act), which would put balanced security measures in place to protect the sensitive property of businesses and their customers. The bill already received strong bipartisan support in the House last month, with 99 representatives voting in favor. While this legislation provides a much-needed fix to North Carolina’s inadequate current property protection laws, critics of House Bill 405 have repeatedly used inflammatory language to mischaracterize its intent, claiming it is something it is not.
It is extremely disappointing that opponents would so grossly misrepresent the policy and the bill itself. Let’s cut to the truth, property can take on many different forms: patient records, financial information, consumer data, merchandise, patents and intellectual property. House Bill 405 simply creates a process for employers victimized by trespassers looking to unlawfully access that property.
This legislation provides a civil, compensatory remedy for victims of organized retail theft, corporate espionage and other malicious acts. It would allow the property owner to sue a worker for $5,000 in damages for each day the worker engaged in unauthorized activity, as well as other damages and attorneys’ fees. This is similar to civil penalties under the Unfair and Deceptive Trade Practices Act. As Senator Brent Jackson makes clear in this article from WRAL, the bill relates only to activities committed in areas where an individual would be breaking the law by gaining access and does not impact current whistleblower laws in North Carolina.
The bottom line is that businesses must have a way to protect their property – their product. We do not feel it should be so easy for someone to gain access to that property to do its owner damage – whether that is stealing credit card information, health records or merchandise. We know the Governor supports protecting the property rights of North Carolina citizens. We look forward to his support of this important legislation.
Gary J. Salamido
Vice President, Government Affairs
North Carolina Chamber