American retailers continue to be plagued by the relatively new phenomenon of brazen, organized retail thefts, often characterized as “smash and grabs” and carried out by “flash mobs.” 

This crime wave has already caused the Walgreens drug chain to close down a number of its stores in San Francisco—see “COVID CRIME WAVE SPIKES, DRUG STORES CLOSE” (19 Oct 2021)—and caused Macy’s and Disney, among others, to abandon their flagship stores on Chicago’s now severely tarnished Miracle Mile; see “CHICAGO’S COVID CRIME WAVE FOLLOWS SAN FRAN’S MODEL” (26 Oct 2021). 

An article in The Wall Street Journal, on 4 December, gives more details of the extent of this crime wave and tells of the actions retailers, law enforcement and some prosecutors are taking in response. 

Some stores have seen dozens of people drive up at the same time and carry out organized thefts. Such incidents seemed especially numerous over the Thanksgiving weekend. 

The WSJ reports that the National Retail Federation draws a distinction between such organized thefts and shoplifting, and that such thefts cost retailers some $700,000 per $1 billion in sales. In 2011 10 percent of retailers surveyed by the NRF reported flash mob attacks; in 2020, 69 percent of retailers surveyed reported an increase in organized thefts. 

One chain particularly hard hit is Home Depot, presumably because power tools are often on the thieves’ shopping lists and—like medicine and high-priced fashion items from other stores—are easily re-sold online (despite Facebook and Amazon claiming that they don’t allow stolen goods to be listed for sale). 

Home Depot reports theft apprehensions have increased by 10 percent this year, and various measures are being taken, including adding more security personnel, changing store layouts and even employing technology that renders products inoperable until paid for. 

Other chains are employing similar preventative measures, often under advice from local police departments. And the California Highway Patrol has announced increased coverage of freeway corridors near major shopping centers. 

A group of Northern California district attorneys announced that their offices would each detail special prosecutors to deal with such “clearly carefully orchestrated crimes,” and Florida’s attorney general has created a task force to address the issue. 

TRENDPOST: While some prosecutors are taking action to fight this crime wave, the case can be made for other prosecutors to be blamed for it. 

As Trends Journal has noted, a cadre of “rogue prosecutors” around the countrynotably Chesa Boudin of San Francisco (the son of two convicted radical domestic terrorists!), Kim Foxx of Chicago, Marilyn Mosby of Baltimore and George Gascon of Los Angelesbears responsibility for removing deterrents to crime and other antisocial behaviors by instituting low-bail or no-bail policies and often simply refusing to prosecute; see (again) “CHICAGO’S COVID CRIME WAVE FOLLOWS SAN FRAN’S MODEL” (26 Oct 2021), and “OLD FASHIONED CRIME ON THE STREETS OF SAN FRANCISCO” (20 Jul 2021). 

TREND FORECAST: Despite measures to fight this trend, such thievery is bound to increase over the holiday season. 

And we see no reason not to reprise the forecast we made in October: As inflation and the various stresses brought on by the COVID War continue (and increase), so, too, will crime (and drug use, and mental illness, homelessness, and public nuisance behaviors). As Gerald Celente says, “When people lose everything and have nothing left to lose, they lose it,” and especially in areas where prosecutors encourage the problem by being deliberately soft on crime. 

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