Shoplifting Sprees Persist in Criminal-Coddling Jurisdictions

Shoplifting Sprees Persist in Criminal-Coddling Jurisdictions

By Stephen Owsinski

The mounting social media posts illustrating brazen shoplifting sprees in mostly bail reform jurisdictions continue to bloat the airwaves, underscoring how corrosive a particular political party is regarding its so-called people’s representatives gifting evildoers.

These elected officials have outrageously paved the way for sticky-fingered criminals to take what they want, while law-abiding citizens pay the price —heavily due to shrink, exacerbated by inflationary burdens— thanks to emboldened kleptomaniacs loading up their garbage and/or duffel bags and traipsing to the exit…Carte Blanche-style.

A recently posted shoplift ordeal at a CVS in New York City was presumably recorded by store management; you can hear him get frustrated, eventually making statements to compel the thief to finish his dastardly deed and get out. Incidentally, in many reports, New York and California are among the top states that suffer so much shoplifting, that CVS locations closed permanently, leaving locals in the lurch for pharmacy necessities. People’s representatives? 

Besides social media indicating the depth of shoplifting woes, the stock market is another source to illustrate how bad it has become.

On August 22, earnings reports were published by some well-known retailers. Dick’s Sporting Goods is one of them. It caught my eye because of the significant decline in its stock right after it revealed its accounting—bleak results for shareholders. The following screenshot tells it all:

That was during pre-market trading. Upon market open at 9:30 a.m., it spiraled down further. The morning headlines more than hinted at retail theft continuing to be a culprit.

A MarketWatch article scaled the shoplifting bonanzas, with pointed commentary made by the CEO of Dick’s Sporting Goods posted in the title: “Dick’s Sporting Goods CEO highlights impact of organized retail crime: ‘It’s quite alarming what’s going on’.”

Because of rampant retail theft in liberal-governed cities equating to billions of dollars in stolen inventory, resulting in increased prices passed on to consumers everywhere, we all pay the steep price, cops included.

The Tampa Police Athletic League shops for athletic supplies and gear for the youngsters they mentor in their program. Ordinarily, they spend their modest budget at Dick’s Sporting Goods, paying more due to the thieving epidemic.

(Photo courtesy of the Tampa Police Athletic League.)

It’s widespread. PAL kids may be getting gipped, too.

Seems social justice-oriented leaders in state and local governments that orchestrated the playing field are not alarmed after imposing foolhardy new laws gift-wrapped in reform designs, ugly ones.

Dick’s, the sporting goods giant, is just one corporation harboring concerns.

Others have joined the list of companies that opted to pull up stakes and get out of these crime-ridden cities, in the same sad position to salvage what’s left. Remember, publicly traded companies are responsible to shareholders. When the stock is down due to earnings reports indicating abysmal revenues (thus poor earnings per share, or EPS), it must act in the interest of those who invested in their equity, with a promising future equating to returns.

“Organized retail crime and theft in general, is an increasingly serious issue impacting many retailers,” Dick’s CEO Lauren Hobart signaled during a publicized conference call analyzing second-quarter findings. “Based on the results from our most recent physical inventory cycle, the impact of theft on our shrink was meaningful to both our Q2 results and our go-forward expectations.”

While this retail horror show festers, citizens suffer (unavailable products or, if somehow still stocked, higher prices stemming from inventory loss because of shoplifting sagas).

Also of import are the retailers’ employees who are within proximity to brazen thieves.

“We’re doing everything we can to address the problem and keep our stores, teammates, and athletes safe,” CEO Barton claimed. She also said they have enlisted resources to combat the plague of retail theft by “increased security” and deployment of Lot Cop cameras, in addition to “working with local law enforcement.”

According to Market Watch reporter James Rogers, “Eight in 10 retailers surveyed also reported that violence and aggression associated with organized retail crime incidents had increased.” No surprise there.

In all of this, bail reformists seem largely silent, like smirky crickets.

Former NYPD Police Commissioner Bill Bratton, an avowed Broken-Windows Theory advocate, recently replied to an “innovative” initiative undertaken by the Queens County District Attorney, who seeks to implement a trespass warning program for merchants. The New York Post reported on this.

In his response, Mr. Bratton said one thing that hit the proverbial nail on the head: “You don’t deter crime by an increasing tolerance of it.”

He clarified: “The problem with this Queens initiative is it creates another layer of bureaucracy on store owners, cops, and assistant district attorneys to create trespass charges when what is needed is a return to actual punishment and incarceration for repeat offenders for the original crime of shoplifting.”  

What else is in the works, albeit tardy to the shoplift party?

The governing officials in San Francisco, a city the Wall Street Journal dubbed “a shoplifter’s paradise” in Oct. 2021, have watched along with the public and state lawmakers, as retailers such as Nordstrom, Walgreens, CVS, and others have been chronically invaded by thieves and grossly stripped of inventory—sustenance starved…just like people on the Naked and Afraid series.

For each store owned by a gargantuan corporate network, it is a monumental task and inherently huge cost to shutter each store location and relocate to safer, law-and-order proficient environs.

San Francisco City Council’s website provided some quaint-sounding language explaining how the city offers incentives to new business startups to fill the vacancies left by previous merchants who have had enough of being picked clean by scavenging shoplifters:

“Lowering costs, simplifying City processes, and proactively supporting entrepreneurs will encourage more businesses to start and remain Downtown and increase the diversity among business owners.”

Refilling retail spaces for recidivists to victimize new marks is a Band-Aid blueprint, with monetary incentives thrown in to repeat the cycle we’ve seen time and again, without addressing root causes of the vacancies in the first place: Criminal-coddling reforms that forced bona fide businesses to fold and go elsewhere.

But, hey, we can always play catch-up, right?

Karen Bass, mayor of Los Angeles, announced the formation of a task force of various LA-area law enforcement agencies, the officers of which will attempt to stem the shoplift tide.

“What we’ve seen over just the past week in the City of Los Angeles and in surrounding regions is unacceptable, which is why today [August 17,2023] we are here announcing action. These are not victimless crimes —especially in the case where Angelinos were attacked— through force or fear, as they did their jobs or ran errands. No Angeleno should feel like it’s unsafe to go shopping and no Angelenos should feel like it’s unsafe to open a business in Los Angeles or Los Angeles County,” said Mayor Bass.

Too little too late? And…did I just hear her admit she has not talked to LA District Attorney Gascon, the Soros-backed non-prosecuting prosecutor? Finally mustering resources to tackle the retail theft plague, any arrests for which may go nowhere but out the justice doors?

Garnering the poster-child award for moronic means, California legalized shoplifting. Who would argue against the “predictable results” of that maneuver?

In November 2020, Hot Air published a piece that opened with a tell-all statement earmarking what would inevitably come from illogical lawmakers:

“Through a series of measures starting back in 2014, the state of California has made it increasingly easy for people to commit property theft and get away with it. This trend has only accelerated during the ongoing riots, as cops are instructed to ‘disperse’ looters rather than trying to arrest them.” They rolled out the red carpet to retail theft and takers stomped all over the prospect of free goods.

Back to the Los Angeles task force, LAPD Assistant Chief Dominic Choi said, “I am pleased to announce the formation of a new initiative aimed at addressing a pressing concern within our community: the rampant incidents of retail theft.

“The [LAPD’s] primary duty is to ensure the safety and security of our community members and businesses. With that commitment in mind, we are aggressively attacking the escalating issue of retail theft. Retail theft not only affects businesses financially but also has a broader impact on the overall well-being of our community.

“The Organized Retail Crimes Task Force will work closely with retailers to enhance security measures, share information, and develop strategies to deter these crimes.”

He went on to “encourage residents to remain vigilant, report suspicious activities, and partner with us in this endeavor,” asserting that a unified effort is essential to ensure “our streets and businesses are safe from the scourge of retail theft.”

That is well intended but a few things poke me in the eye…

There’s zero mention of redressing the bizarre law that encourages shoplifting. Moreover, the City of Los Angeles jumped on the defund-the-police bandwagon, leading to a predictable exodus of cops. From recent assessments, the LAPD roles are down significantly:

“The number of officers employed by the LAPD has dropped below 9,000, a staffing level unseen since the administration of former Mayor Richard Riordan in the 1990s,” NBC Los Angeles reported.

Even if the contrarian shoplift law in California is amended (fantasizing is free), adequate police staffing levels to address crime empirically are lacking, equating to the reality that boneheaded statutes okaying shoplifting activities in “rampant” forms amount to perils for everyone. And this cycles back to Los Angeles inviting citizens to “partner” with them in the joint venture, by reporting thievery to authorities whose shorthandedness is palpable and which lawmakers ushered in.

See something, say something is a vital measure but the flash mobs conducting a feeding frenzy is not likely to have innocent bystanders there, watching. Mayor Bass noted how Angelenos ought not be afraid to go shopping. This craziness is increasingly plastered on social media and via news station broadcasts, so why would price-paying shoppers even hazard to go there?

Billions of dollars are lost due to retail theft. Mega corporations have had to exit locales. Cities’ reputations are sullied.

As usual, the cops are in the middle of guff created by the meeting of the minds who came up with criminal-coddling laws culminating in such messes.