Lawlessness Hamstrings Police, Law-abiding Consumers Pay Steep Price

Lawlessness Hamstrings Police, Law-abiding Consumers Pay Steep Price

By Stephen Owsinski

Although it is not the first Big Box chain compelled to reconsider operating hours or altogether pack up and leave, Walgreens took further drastic steps by shuttering even more stores and reducing its retail footprint in San Francisco. This signals the mounting moves of businesses stemming from unmitigated  losses due to liberal-run locales effectively encouraging shoplifting while rogue prosecutors wave white flags to fleeing kleptomaniacs, paralyzing cops from theft prevention and enforcement.

In a twisted version of throwing the baby out with the bathwater, the lovely liberal lads and lasses living in California voted roughly 60-40, in favor of passing California Proposition 47 (otherwise referred to as the The Safe Neighborhoods and Schools Act.) Safe for whom?

Specifically pertaining to shoplifting sprees, California constituents voting for Prop 47 saw fit to reduce stealing $950. worth of merchandise from a felony to a misdemeanor, what sober minds may clearly call an influence toward criminality. Talk about giving “one-stop-shopping” a whole new look (more befittingly called “no-stop-shopping,” because that is the literal nature of this justice reform rubbish).

Given the relative free reign on goods, specifically on the streets of San Francisco, No-stop-shopping was a hit among lovers of larceny. The product of what anti-cop sentiment invited/permitted: sidelining cops while fleecers fleece.

Borrowing a famous line coined by Howard Cosell, let’s go to the tape:

In that brief video, did you catch the devil in the details spoken by San Francisco Police Chief William Scott? His officers can take actions if it is a felony. Who is calculating the tally of items necessary to make that a reality? And, if it is deemed a misdemeanor (same question applies: who’s counting?), the arrest “has to be a private person’s arrest.” A private person, as in any of the 59.61% of the voter base who favored Prop 47? Or the sober-minded 40.39% who saw right through this polluted proposition?

In either case, aren’t Californians being placed in harm’s way by such a Prop dictate? A civilian shoplifter (already desperate) is simply expected to go along with a civilian store employee or citizen from the street. What does that look like, exactly?

You may have already viewed it, but not too many weeks ago, a loading-up shoplifter laughed at price tags, snatched his selections, fed a Hefty bag, made his way for the door on a bike, bypassed a helpless store associate and a hired security guard who merely served as onlookers, and took to the wind…thanks to idiotic legislation. This lawless lifestyle leaves consumers the loom of “loss statement” tabs resulting in higher prices.

“Organized retail crime continues to be a challenge facing retailers across San Francisco, and we are not immune to that,” Walgreens spokesman Phil Caruso shared with the media. “Retail theft across our San Francisco stores has continued to increase in the past few months to five times our chain average. During this time, to help combat this issue, we increased our investments in security measures in stores across the city to 46 times our chain average in an effort to provide a safe environment.”

Such a compelling statement telegraphing dire reasons to effect major moves, no fault of their own. And the cost of that 46X security boast, in addition to what in the retail trade is known as “shrink”? Upped prices for those who shop within the confines of good conscience.

News does circulate. According to the Washington Examiner, “Just this week, the pharmacy chain Walgreens announced that it will close five [more] of its stores in San Francisco, citing theft and retail crime as the main motivator behind its decision.”

Other than the people who influenced the lawlessness…and who would notoriously lie to save face, who could say they didn’t see that coming?

Largely liberal enclaves give birth to this kind of nonsense.

Ultimately, despite already affording police protection which is nonsensically shelved by boneheaded decisions such as Prop 47, taxpayers (all of the Prop 47 voting base, whether pro or con) ultimately bear the bill of enormous costs stemming from retail theft losses. Foresight and a revived dose of reality could have nipped this in the bud.

Retailers have little wiggle room when considering measures like Prop 47. Having said that, any mom-and-pop stores hanging on for dear life are effectively doomed to fail—we can confidently assume small business owners are not among those who favored Prop 47.  

Retailers of modest to massive size typically have within their operating budgets a line item for “loss prevention.” Self-explanatory, loss prevention defines retention of inventory for salability and company profits. Preserving product stock against theft equates to modest profits while maintaining affordability for customers.

As Washington Examiner writer Brad Polumbo appropriately underscored this San Fran saga’s meat and potatoes—it is Econ 101. Business principles predicate that “basic markets can’t function without a few prerequisites — namely, the protection of private property rights.”

Somehow, zero conscience and a weakened personal constitution translate to difficult life in mainstream America; in this case, the west coast. Like any other cop out there witnessing these mindboggling lawbook actions, antithetical philosophies and twisted psychology do nothing for the common good.

I can speak for myself (please chime in if you happen to be a LEO, especially in/around the San Fran locale) that such diabolical laws are undeniable gut punches. Grace and humility are conceivable virtues…while abject denunciation by way of going against the grain and imploring evil entities to plunder without repercussion is quite another.

Thus, why these Lala-land anti-police, pro-criminal, victim-ghosting mindsets achieve bizarre referendums is beyond reproach.

Way before my police career commenced, I worked at a huge national Big Box retailer whose loss prevention ranks were titled “Store Detectives,” working incognito, walking the floor as a would-be shopper, trying to detect behavior indicative of someone who has no intention of paying for goods. A bona fide crime which, in the aggregate, can slay the bottom line.

In the store detective capacity, orientation after being hired for the role entailed many nuances pertinent to marketing, commerce, and retail sales—a recurring thread was the shrink concept we mentioned above. A cluster of instruction often repeated to hammer home the necessary diligence in preventing merchandise from walking out the door is the fact that retailers’ losses inevitably get passed on to law-abiding consumers, effectively helping businesses sustain impacts from loss (no fault of their own).

In this context, Prop 47 distributes free passes to sticky-fingered takers, eye-pokes to citizens deservedly preserving hard-earned dollars, and a slap in the face of law enforcement officers sworn to uphold the constitutional principles, paramount of which are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Somehow, miscreants are accorded more while offering less (or nothing at all).

Blues guitarist and renowned lyricist Robin Trower coined, “Takers get the honey, givers sing the blues.” Even though he wrote that verse decades ago, those eight words have definitive applications toward what is festering in San Fran (and similar liberal-run enclaves engendering lawlessness). This is our modern-day America, devolving at a rapid pace.

About Walgreens taking their enterprise elsewhere because of “organized retail crime,” one of San Fran’s legislators apparently managed to maintain his head in many clouds…until it was too late.

Via the SF Gate news source, “San Francisco Board of Supervisors Ahsha Safai of District 11 said he was ‘devastated’ by the loss of the store on Mission Street on Twitter, writing ‘I am completely devastated by this news – this Walgreens is less than a mile from seven schools and has been a staple for seniors, families and children for decades. This closure will significantly impact this community.’”

Can’t imagine an argument against the fact that “devastation” evolves from devastating ordinances and social justice-based laws pretty much encouraging criminality, especially with the progressives’ promise of hampered police intervention.

Defies all common senses that anyone is blind to the significant impacts to this community stemming from the permissibility of shoplifters to rake shelves and enjoy life…on the backs and doles of those who embrace lawful means.

Fair to say that one or more on the San Fran Board of governance did nothing less than tacitly cater to the decaying life in their community. Somewhat disingenuously, Mr. Safai made a statement that although one Walgreens store only recently employed an off-duty police officer, “it was too little, too late.” The nation has been watching this decay for over one year. Has the Internet been down that long in that region?

“Only recently,” as in when Walgreens officially announced they are sick and tired of sustaining about $1000/day in retail theft tabulations? After Walgreens started to gradually downsize their number of stores, shuttering far more than the recent five finales?

A ditty published in October 2020 by the San Francisco Chronicle denoting “Rampant shoplifting leads to another Walgreens closing in S.F.” flags all-things-amiss long ago, so this craziness is not novel.

As San Fran reporter Tessa McLean wrote, “The rampant shoplifting was often brazen and carried out in broad daylight — that month ​​Inside Edition was filming a segment about the increase in crime in the drugstore when they caught a man jumping over the front counter to do that very thing.” Highly coincidental timing…or indicative of routine life in San Francisco?

These and many other similar news reports blasting criminal rampancy outs anyone feigning shock and  dismay and devastation, highlighting unfettered criminality, no fault of hamstrung police forces subjugated by social justice reformers’ ardent championing for the bad guys/gals to have it easy.

Never more applicable is the credo “You reap what you sow” than what Prop 47 voters ushered in, bastardizing the landmark land beyond the lip of the Golden Gate Bridge, its splendor somewhat sullied by the carte blanche accorded opportunistic property predators.

Alas, one institution with absolute breadth of experience foreseeing the eroding environment and its residents being subjected to whims of progressives giving away the goods rightfully possessed by others…is the law enforcement contingent.

Always seemed when I reported for midnight shift duty back in the day, that there were a routine few shoplifter calls being dispatched to the oncoming squad, among them Walgreens personnel eliciting police response (as they rightfully could/should). Almost all were met with retail managers’ rights and desires to prosecute. A far cry from what we are witnessing in San Francisco and cities mimicking far-left order (read: disorder).

Seems Walgreens CEOs have no choice but to pull up stakes and re-seed in better climes, where criminals are not pedastaled…where law-and-order is cherished, not perished…where cops are permitted to partner with community constituents, not closeted by power-crazed puppet-masters possessed with marionette fetishes serving no one but themselves.

Reminiscing my days as a “store detective” sleuthing and thwarting shoplifting, the reference “organized rings of retail theft” was bandied about often. Relatedly, every single loss-prevention officer I worked with aspired to be a cop, predominantly citing disdain for thieves (among other malfeasants). Can’t imagine how gut-twisted San Fran police officers and deputies are over this reckless abandon.

Upon apprehensions of shoplifters, I remember the law enforcement officers who responded (to assume custody of those caught in the act) always supported/implored our civilian staff detecting and nabbing thieves, even offering BOLOs (Be On the Look Out) derived from police intelligence regarding organized theft rings and the klepto players among them. Reciprocally, our loss prevention staff shared info with LEOs, namely video footage of those who got away (stringent policies often hampered making a stop).

Many times, local cops already knew who was in the images, meaning identities were made and correlations to other crimes their agency was already investigating served as a momentum play toward eventual arrest and prosecution.

Funny, I always thought “organized crime” was combatted by prosecutors, not enabled. Prop 47 is the brand of nonsense which is the sweetest cup of tea for pandering prosecutors who seem hell-bent on bending over backwards for criminal elements while snubbing noses at cop doing police work.

It seems some twistedly “woke” district attorneys, like the one in San Fran, lost their moral compass and sense of duty, compelling major shopping center “anchors” and “flagship stores,” which ordinarily attract potential customer traffic, to operate elsewhere. Indeed, the hands-off approach is ill-conceived and grossly ineffective.

As the San Francisco Police Officers Association put it: San Fran district attorney “Chesa Boudin refuses to hold criminals accountable. Ask yourself this simple question, since Boudin took office, do you feel safer?”

At least insurance companies underwriting Walgreens for property damages (thieves busting glass/locked cases of merchandise) and general losses will sleep better at night knowing safer enclaves outside of San Francisco are tentatively in focus.

In the city by the Bay, Walgreens, the literal victim deemed anti-victim thanks to Prop 47 and a DA whose twisted ideologies embrace social justice reforms, has replied loud and clear by closing a whopping 17 of its stores in his jurisdiction.

This same travesty is likely playing out in a liberal bastion near you…