Walgreens says they are closing five more stores in the San Francisco area due to “organized retail theft.” Somehow, that phrase doesn’t do justice to what’s happening in San Francisco. Emboldened, organized gangs of thieves are going into drug stores with shopping carts, filling them to the rim with household goods and toiletries, and then sauntering out the door secure in the knowledge that no one will stop them, no one will confront them, and no one will arrest them.
In California, when they reduced penalties for shoplifting anything under $950, it became open season on retailers. Coupled with a “can’t be bothered” attitude of local law enforcement toward retail theft, there has been a pandemic of shoplifting.
“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.”
The retailer had previously shuttered 17 stores in San Francisco during the past five years, Fox News reported.
A member of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors said the new closures will “significantly impact” the community.
It’s getting almost as bad in New York City. Bail “reform” has led to large numbers of repeat shoplifters getting arrested again and again. according to the Post.
Drug store theft in New York City has spiraled into a similar crisis. Last week, The Post visited a dozen Walgreens, CVS, Duane Reade and Rite Aid locations to find largely barren shelves where staples like tampons, toothpaste, face wash and hand sanitizer should have been stocked.
“They’ve all been stolen,” a CVS employee said.
The numbers are nearly incomprehensible.
Police Commissioner Dermot Shea has blamed the shoplifting surge on the state’s “disastrous bail reform law.”
“Insanity,” the top cop tweeted earlier this month in response to a Post exposé about a prolific Queens shoplifter who was arrested 46 times in 2021, only to be released to continue stealing under Albany’s bail reform overhaul.
The city recorded 3,709 retail theft complaints in August, the most the boroughs have ever seen in a single month.
Police forces in big cities have never made shoplifting a priority. Perhaps now that it’s grown up to be a huge organized crime problem, cops will have to take notice.
It’s what the mass thefts represent that’s so troubling. There’s nothing new about the complete lack of respect for the property of others. But the nihilism represented by the attitudes of both the authorities and the criminals should worry anyone who cares about civic order as the basis for a just society.
There’s no substitute for order. And what we’re seeing in San Francisco and New York City is the imposition of a kind of anarchy where the authorities have deliberately castrated themselves by throwing the tools they need to combat the lawlessness away.
Perhaps the question we should be asking is, why would the politicians expect anything else?