The Property Protection Act (HB 405) gives property owners a defense against perpetrators who gain access to the nonpublic areas of their property and then engage in unscrupulous activity like corporate espionage or organized retail theft. Specifically, it can give protection over records, data, finances, and other sensitive business information. It puts teeth in North Carolina’s trespass case law to prevent bad actors and people who do not intend to be employed from steeling or obtaining private property; however, it does not create a criminal penalty.
It is also important to note that this act exempts whistleblowers and law enforcement officers engaged in lawful and legitimate investigations. This does not weaken or otherwise affect employees under North Carolina’s strong whistleblower protections found in the Retaliation in Employment Security Act (HB 1394 & GS 95-240 - GS 95-241).
“Property protection is a serious issue that faces North Carolina companies of all sizes, every single day. It can take many different forms: patient records, financial information, consumer data, merchandise and intellectual property; and currently, weak laws in our State put businesses and the privacy of their customers at serious risk,” stated Rep. John Szoka (R-Cumberland), primary bill sponsor. “The Property Protection Act, a result of careful bi-partisan negotiations, balances the rights of business owners with the rights of their employees to strengthen North Carolina trespass laws. The bill protects property owners against those who gain access to non-public areas of the owner’s property and then engage in activities that go beyond the permission given by the owner. The bill is narrowly focused on illegal activities not on infringing on the liberties of whistleblowers or press. I encourage my colleagues in the House to override this veto, because North Carolina businesses cannot afford another day without protection.”