Is Retail Theft Rising in CA?

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Wednesday, July 21, 2021 - 6:36am

A number of viral videos of thefts in prominent stores in California are suggesting what retailers say is a drastic rise in retail thefts in recent years, reports USA Today. Thefts have resulted in some of the largest shopping chains taking unprecedented steps to cut their store hours, beef up security measures and close locations entirely. Some blame a shift in state laws that lowered penalties for the crimes. Others point to the nature of the crime shifting from run-of-the-mill shoplifting to organized criminal rings. In San Francisco, retailers say the city has become a target and claim thefts have grown out of control, though data from the San Francisco Police Department questions that narrative. Thefts are down nine percent compared to last year. Retailers say the nature of the crimes have changed: People shoplift in mass quantities and sell the stolen goods in online marketplaces, allowing sellers a sense of anonymity.

Walgreens has closed 17 of its stores in the last five years, largely because of thefts, said a spokesman. Target announced this month all of its stores in the city would close at 6 p.m. because of crime. The San Francisco District Attorney's Office rebutted such claims and pointed to its retail theft task force aimed at breaking up criminal theft rings. A National Retail Federation survey said criminals have stolen more goods knowing penalties won't be as severe – adding nearly two-thirds of retailers have reported an increase in organized retail thefts since changes in laws. The claim runs contrary to data and numerous studies. A 2017 Pew Charitable Trusts study found that while more than three dozen states had raised the amount criminals could steal before a crime was charged as a felony, it had no impact overall on property crime or larceny.

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