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NY Post
New York Post
2 Dec 2023

NextImg:The real loss of shoplifting: Why America’s ‘great rip-off’ hurts everyone

It’s just shoplifting, what’s the big deal? Everything is insured. The stores just write it off, right?

But anyone who has ever stood in front of a locked case of toothpaste, waiting for someone to free the Colgate, knows it’s far more than that.

Worse, anyone who has lived in an area that shops are abandoning en masse due to the shoplifting problem knows what is lost.

The impulse to dismiss shoplifting as no big deal is wrong. A mass shoplifting problem is evidence of societal decline and degradation.

There’s an urge by media outlets and liberal activists to downplay shoplifting and massage statistics so they don’t seem quite so bad and to keep following criminal-first prescriptive policies that are obviously failing.

A New York Times newsletter from a few days ago cites numbers from the left-wing Council on Criminal Justice, which examined shoplifting in 24 cities, noting, “Overall, shoplifting incidents were 16% higher in the first half of 2023 than the first half of 2019. When New York City is excluded, however, reported shoplifting incidents fell over the same time period.”

The shoplifting epidemic has resulted in even the most basic items such as ice cream now kept behind lock and key. Courtesy Joyce Cohen

But why exclude New York City? Is it because the same Council on Criminal Justice study found a whopping 64% spike in shoplifting since 2019?

The other cities on the list may bring down the country’s average but they themselves are cherry-picked. Chattanooga, Tenn. — pop. 182,113 — is on the list but Syracuse (pop. 146,103), which is experiencing a 55% increase in shoplifting since 2019, doesn’t make it.

San Francisco somehow shows a 5% decline in shoplifting yet businesses are fleeing the city.

Store shelves have been left empty amid surge in shoplifting in New York City. STRF/STAR MAX/IPx

Target is closing three stores in the area, citing “theft and organized retail crime . . . threatening the safety of our team and guests, and contributing to unsustainable business performance.”

Maybe they know something the study does not.

A CNN story from earlier this month also used the same study to downplay crime and portrayed shoplifting as part of some “counterculture” that “many on the right and some Democrats have exploited to oppose criminal justice policy reforms.”

The “criminal justice policy reforms” have indeed led to widespread crime, including shoplifting, by limiting punishment for bad behavior.

It’s actually sane to support measures like jailing people who ransack and steal things from stores — something we all used to understand.

Many of the sympathetic journalists and activists are largely untouched by the crime they promote.

New York City Mayor Eric Adams is overseeing a city that has seen a 63% increase in shoplifting between 2019 and 2023. Matthew McDermott

As small crimes lead to bigger crimes, as they often do, it’s not people pontificating in media outlets who are hardest hit.

A black market emerges for the stolen goods, violence becomes more likely when theft continues unchecked, and an atmosphere of danger permeates the areas where people are stealing and suffering no consequences.

Poor people with less mobility remain trapped in crime-ridden neighborhoods while journalists around them write articles about how everything is actually fine.

NYPD officers subdued apprehended shoplifter who tried to escape outside a Target on East 14th St. Helayne Seidman

Beyond an obvious increase in other crimes, unchecked shoplifting also makes people lose faith in the very idea of law and order.

When we watch shoplifters brazenly get away with criminal activity, we realize that the security guard at the shop door is for show and the police aren’t coming.

That feeling of helplessness — that no one is in charge and rules don’t matter — leads directly to societal decay. When security isn’t an expectation, antisocial behavior increases.

A “criminal-first” mentality now courses through anti-theft strategies and has gotten so bad that store guards are told not to apprehend pilfering bad guys. Matthew McDermott

American trust in their fellow citizens is at a 50-year low and it shows.

New York City was able to fix itself during the Rudy Giuliani era by using the “broken window” theory of prosecuting crime, which led to arrests of people for smaller crimes who were wanted for bigger ones but also fixed the “small” issues that contributed to a fraying quality of life.

Trains covered with graffiti were not allowed to run, and jumping turnstiles to avoid paying for the subway was not tolerated.

New York’s crime level improved but so did general culture in the city.

Criminal justice reform efforts such as those popularized by New York City DA Alvin Bragg have only contributed to the city’s sense of lawlessness and rising shoplifting epidemic. Matthew McDermott

Schools got better, businesses boomed.

Fixing the small stuff led directly to the big stuff improving, too.

America is on a bad path, and starting to deal with manageable issues like shoplifting would go a long way toward turning things around.

A fraying society can be fixed but we need to take seriously the “small” problems that have caused so much of the destruction in the first place and ignore the voices who say these problems don’t matter.