Shoplifting has been a growing problem across America for some time, and now experts say these brazen smash-and-grab robberies are being organized on social media and present a new kind of challenge from high-end stores to corner pharmacies. Los Angeles has been especially hard hit, seeing more than 20,000 property crimes per month this year.
And it’s not just organized retail theft. A map shows vehicle break-ins over just three days in December.
Add stolen cars, assaults, and other crimes and you can see why certain California politicians are waking up to the idea that defunding the police might not be such a great option after all.
“Our residents are suffering and we need to be different, to act with urgency and to be aggressive,” said San Francisco Mayor London Breed.
Residents, however, say these politicians are all but encouraging the trend with soft-on-crime policies.
“Part of it, to be fair is more people are in trouble economically, and part from the lockdown, but if I had to guess, I think more of it is there’s an atmosphere of impunity in Los Angeles,” John, an LA resident told CBN News. “People know they can get away with what they want to get away with. But this to me is not liberal by progressive standards or by mine. This is disorder and fear and always having to look over your shoulder and knowing the police don’t have your back at all.”
There are tens of thousands of people here at the Grove Shopping Center, one of the most high-end shopping centers in Los Angeles. As they are doing their last-minute shopping, you can imagine the security here is a nightmare. But when a flash mob robbery happened at the Nordstrom store recently, there was really nothing the security guards could do about it.
After enduring months of lockdowns, and now attacks by organized gangs, retailers are wondering how much more they can take.
“So when we’re not protecting our shopping malls. We’re not protecting our strip malls. When we’re letting this behavior continue, it’s kind of another whammy to the small businesses and small retailers are still trying to recover from being shut down by the government,” said Rachel Michelin, president of the California Retailers Association.
“You know, a year ago because of COVID. So this has a lot of implications, not to mention the impact it’s having on tourism, not to mention the impact it’s having on conventions wanting to come into the state,” Michelin continued.
The rising lawlessness only adds to other issues like rampant homelessness and high taxes that are causing businesses as well as residents to leave the state in record numbers. Last year, the population of California declined for the first time in recorded history.
“We’ll be leaving in a little over a year. We would have left already, if it weren’t for my job, like a lot of people,” said John, an LA resident. “Other places have good restaurants, other places have beaches. Other places have good weather, though not like this. So, they had to work very hard to make California a place that’s not worth it, because it’s that good when it’s good. But it’s not worth it anymore.”