Stores Shutting Down In Droves Due To Rising Levels Of Retail Crime

Written by Jack Applewhite

What’s happening: Retail theft is on the rise in the U.S., and many businesses have been limiting store hours or shut down certain locations completely. The problem has become so rampant that some retailers are locking low-value merchandise, such as basic toiletries, behind display cases.

  • By the numbers: In 2022, retail crime losses amounted to $112 billion, an increase of about 20 percent from 2021. The rise in theft has led many major retailers to give up. Target is the latest example, announcing last week that it would close nine locations across several cities, including New York City and San Francisco, California.

Why it’s happening: Many critics say progressive policies that are soft on crime are to blame. Policies that reduce the penalties for theft have been implemented in places such as San Francisco, where nearly half of the retailers in the city’s central shopping district have closed up shop.

  • Zoom in: George Soros-backed district attorneys across the country have worked to weaken punishments for criminals who commit acts of theft and, in some cases, have chosen not to prosecute the crime at all. Even as looting and shoplifting surge, district attorneys in some cities have decriminalized theft under a certain dollar value.

Precedent? Policies that reduce criminal penalties for theft have proven to increase the rates of theft in the past. In 2014, California passed a proposition that downgraded theft to a misdemeanor, immediately driving property crime in the state to a level that remains above the national average today.

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