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Soft-on-crime policies, failure to stop retail theft trigger closures of major retailers in blue cities
By Ava Grace // Feb 15, 2024

While businesses blame the rise of online shopping and fall of in-store profits for closures in urban centers, insiders beg to differ. They point to the limitations of unarmed security staff and soft-on-crime policies in blue cities.

Sean Salai of the Washington Times outlined three such instances of unarmed security staff meeting tragic fates in the course of doing their job. In late January, armed thieves stabbed a loss prevention officer trying to stop them from looting a Safeway supermarket in Kensington, Maryland.

A security guard at a Philadelphia Macy's met the same fate in December 2023, dying from a stabbing committed by a retail thief. Further back in April 2023, a Home Depot security guard in Pleasanton, California was gunned down after he caught a woman stealing. (Related: Grocery stores hiring armed security teams to ward off rising thefts.)

Salai noted that given these violent incidents, "more merchants are pulling out of inner cities as corporate offices order employees not to interfere with thefts." He added that these companies "have opted to absorb the losses rather than risk the liabilities of violent confrontations." Two such companies that stuck to this trend are big-box retailers Walmart and Target.

Kristin Moss of DealAid.org pointed to data showing a concentration of Walmart stores with the highest retail losses in cities with the lowest prosecution rates for shoplifting. Target meanwhile closed nine stores in New York City, San Francisco, Seattle and Portland last year over safety concerns.

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Given that both Walmart and Target surpassed the $500 million mark in retail theft losses in 2023, their decision to close don locations in cities "where theft has gotten out of control" is not surprising, said Moss. "This is a trend common among retailers and small businesses that are forced to leave such areas," she told the Times.

Stores with self-checkout kiosks targeted by thieves

Aside from hiring unarmed loss prevention officers, some retail establishments have resorted to locking specific merchandise behind plastic shields and training employees to deter theft without using to violence. However, these establishments still fell to organized retail crime.

The crime wave has even hit stores that eliminated human cashiers in favor of self-checkout kiosks as part of money-saving measures during the pandemic-era labor shortages.

According to a DealAid.org study, businesses that replaced staff with self-checkout terminals reported increases of up to 50 percent in retail thefts in 2023. As a result, 37.1 percent of retailers increased the sizes of their loss prevention and asset protection teams and placed additional security and employees near self-checkout terminals to reduce theft. This essentially negated the extra savings from ditching cashiers, as the money was redirected to bolster loss prevention efforts.

Such efforts have had mixed results, according to Salai. Nike decided not to reopen its community store in Portland due to rampant theft, and Walmart launched a "police workspace" at a store in Atlanta to discourage crime.

While grocery stores have been more reluctant to pull out for fear of turning neighborhoods into food deserts, some food companies that supply to them prefer selling higher-end products online than risk losing them to thefts. One such food company is the Waco, Texas-based Prepper Beef, which sells freeze-dried beef in bags.

"We're not going to put our items on the shelf when we know someone can just walk out with them," said Prepper Beef co-founder Jason Nelson. "If you're not prosecuting people for theft, it only encourages people to steal."

Head over to Collapse.news for more stories about retail theft in cities.

Watch this clip of law enforcement subduing a shoplifter caught in the act at an undisclosed Walmart location.

This video is from the Tilt channel on Brighteon.com.

More related stories:

Rite Aid to close up to 500 stores in BANKRUPTCY proposal.

Grocery stores are LEAVING crime-ridden U.S. cities in droves, creating “food deserts”.

Group of Organized Retail Crime (ORC) thieves targeting luxury retail stores in California.

Nike drops plan to reopen Portland community store, confirms its closure is PERMANENT.

Walmart to close four “unprofitable” stores in Chicago as America’s economic decline accelerates.

Sources include:



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