Last summer, a video posted to social media from San Francisco went viral and briefly became the public face of the breakdown of law and order in California under the state’s lax laws against property crimes. It showed a thief casually stuffing a large garbage bag full of merchandise in a Walgreens drug store as a customer and a security guard stood by watching him and recording his actions. The thief then mounted a bicycle and calmly rode out of the store with the pilfered items. He quickly became known as the “Walgreens bicycle thief.” Now, many months later, the criminal has finally been identified and sentenced to more than a year in jail. Is this a sign that the tide is turning against ignoring crime in the name of “social justice?” (NY Post)
A bicycle-riding thief who went viral last year when video footage of him stealing from a Walgreens in San Francisco and then riding out of the retail store with a large bag of stolen merchandise made the rounds on social media was sentenced Monday to 16 months in prison.
Jean Lugo Romero pleaded guilty to felony grand theft, misdemeanor petty theft and received a year of probation in addition to the jail term, San Francisco prosecutors said.
He was also ordered to stay away from two Walgreens employees, two Walgreens stores and a CVS store.
Here’s the video in case you missed it last year.
Some of you may be wondering how anyone committing property theft in San Francisco could possibly be doing any jail time. After all, that’s the turf of District Attorney Chesa Boudin. He’s the guy who has never met a criminal he didn’t like and has worked relentlessly to keep as many people out of jail as possible. So how is it that Romero is heading off to the crowbar motel?
In a seeming reversal of his previous positions, Boudin was quick to come out with a statement taking credit for the sentencing and insisting that property crimes such as this one will not be tolerated on his watch. “Whether the work of organized retail theft rings or of individual suspects, the burglaries impacting our local businesses will not be tolerated,” he said in a statement for the press.
Has Chesa Boudin recently suffered a blow to the head? Did he check into the hospital for a personality transplant? Or could this possibly have something to do with the fact that Boudin is facing a recall election on June 7 and recent polling shows that nearly 70% of respondents want to see him get the boot? I would suggest that poll is what forced the rusty wheels of justice in San Francisco to slowly begin turning again.
But this problem is much, much bigger than just Chesa Boudin. He’s not the cause of the disease, but rather a symptom. California legislators and elected officials up and down the line passed laws meant to hamper the abilities of the police to maintain order and make it all but impossible to put anyone but the most horrible criminals behind bars. They lowered the status of many former felonies to misdemeanors and let criminals across the state know that they wouldn’t be facing any jail time for property crimes. Then they had the nerve to act surprised when the criminals took them up on their offer in a huge way.
If we finally start seeing a lot more cases end the way that Romero’s did, perhaps the word will start getting out on the streets that the free-for-all is coming to an end. But that’s not enough. California needs to undo the changes it made to the property theft laws and go back to getting tough on criminals until they understand that this behavior won’t be tolerated and there will be steep costs for them if they choose to break the law. And if the legislators won’t take these steps, they may find themselves facing the same sort of situation that Boudin is in right now. Even the liberal denizens of California appear to be reaching their limits.