A recent viral shoplifting incident highlighted trends in parts of the country where violators from local pharmacies reign supreme – in one case even able to cycle through the store and grab a full trash bag. of stolen goods as buyers, and security looked on.
A viral video from the start of the week showed a cheeky man riding his bike through a San Francisco Walgreens store carrying apparently stolen goods as he walked past shoppers, including a security guard filming the incident on his phone portable, before leaving the door aside. The footage was captured by local KGO-TV reporter Lyanne Melendez and garnered thousands of likes and comments.
â#NoConsequences,â she wrote in the tweet, tagging San Francisco District Attorney Chesa Boudin.
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A Walgreens spokesperson told Fox News at the time that the video depicts a crime that was reported to police.
âUnfortunately, this is another example of blatant retail theft that is an ongoing problem for many retailers in San Francisco,â the spokesperson said.
Walgreens has closed 17 stores in San Francisco in the past five years, the San Francisco Chronicle reported this week. And CVS has closed at least two, describing San Francisco as “the epicenter of organized retail crime.”
A CVS official told the New York Post that about 85% of the company’s money losses in San Francisco are the result of what the report describes as “professional crime.”
Retail Organized Crime (ORC) is a phrase used to describe shoplifting committed by a shoplifting network or by multiple people who typically steal goods from multiple locations as part of a organized effort.
In December, the National Retail Federation (NRF) identified a list of top cities affected by organized retail crime, Los Angeles ranking No.1. Chicago was found to be the second highest, followed by Miami, New York then San Francisco, according to the NRF.
And months later, in March, the Attorney General Alliance, or AGA, hosted a webinar on the subject, Georgia Attorney General Christopher M. Carr described retail organized crime as “a problem. increasing”.
âOrganized crime in retail has an impact on 97% of retailers in Georgia – 97%. This criminal activity exposes the Georgian workforce to potentially dangerous encounters, puts consumers at risk of unknowingly purchasing expired and defective products, and threatens the health and growth of local businesses. “
He said the ORC was “also a hub for other criminal operations”.
In a statement provided to Fox News after the San Francisco shoplifting video went viral, one company said it, like other companies, had “seen a dramatic increase in theft incidents at display and shoplifting losses since California’s sentencing laws changed in 2014 to make all thefts below $ 950 a misdemeanor when previously it was a wobbler, either a felony or a misdemeanor based on prosecutorial discretion. “
The spokesperson added, “Enterprising thieves realized there was little consequence to shoplifting if they kept the value of their crimes below $ 950.”
In San Francisco, District Attorney Chesa Boudin’s Proposition 47 made any non-violent theft of objects with a collective value of $ 950 a misdemeanor, lowering the penalties for such crimes.
The NRF’s December survey found that retailers lost an average of $ 719,548 out of every $ 1 billion in sales. Three in four âORC victims said they saw an increase in the past 12 months. “
Shoplifting has long been a problem in New York City stores, often at drugstores, such as Duane Reade, owned by CVS or Walgreens, another area where bond reform laws have taken hold. relaxed penalties for certain types of crimes.
Speaking to NewsNation Now for a report on Wednesday, New Yorker Diane Crafford said she saw a thief inside a city pharmacy start “tossing everything in her backpack, going to ‘shelf to shelf.
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But when she questioned a store employee about the theft, they reportedly replied: “We have been informed that we are not allowed to arrest them.”
The issue was also briefly raised at the April meeting of the 17th District Community Council. Meetings are held monthly between community members, local leaders and New York Police Department (NYPD) command staff in the area, which encompasses the east side of Midtown Manhattan.
Police station captain Aaron Edwards was congratulating police on a February shoplifting arrest at a Bed, Bath & Beyond store. The arrest took place after the suspect fled from the store. Edwards described how the security guard tried to stop the shoplifter, who then brandished a knife and fled.
“The security guard had the presence of mind to let him go, but followed from a distance, and was able to relay to our agents that he entered a subway station.” The suspect was then arrested.
When a member of the community later asked if a bond was required for the shoplifter, Edwards replied, âI won’t go into specifics.
The NYPD told Fox News on Friday that members of the public “are encouraged to assist the police in shared responsibility for public safety.”
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An NYPD spokesperson added, “If you see something, say something by calling 911.”
A Walgreens spokesperson did not respond to Fox News requests for information, including regarding advice given to New York City employees for shoplifters in their stores.
Claudia Cowan, Michael Lundin and Edmund DeMarche of Fox News contributed to this report.