Instances of “petty theft” and shoplifting have, for all intents and purposes, been decriminalized in California, and that is especially the case in San Francisco, where the issue has gotten decisively out of hand.
Shoplifting has become so bad in the city that Telemundo videojournalist Andres Brender recently shared a video from inside of a retail store that revealed how many products — including toothpaste and baby formula — are now displayed behind locked, glass doors that can only be accessed by store employees.
The reporter noted that “This is not Caracas, it’s San Francisco, where stealing is so easy and thieves don’t face consequences that at my local supermarket even the toothpaste is locked.”
This is not Caracas, it’s San Francisco ,where stealing is so easy and thieves don’t face consequences that at my local supermarket even the toothpaste is locked.
“If you’re coming to San Francisco…” pic.twitter.com/td5CLGiwas
— ANDRÉS BRENDER (@abrenderT48) July 6, 2021
Stealing decriminalized, not usually prosecuted
Fox News reported that while a surge in shoplifting and petty theft over the past year in San Francisco has been linked to the non-prosecution policies of ultra-progressive District Attorney Chesa Boudin, in actuality, the origin of the worsening problem dates back even further.
In 2014 — when now-Vice President Kamala Harris was California’s attorney general, which followed her stint as a progressive San Francisco DA — California passed into law Prop. 47, which reduced non-violent theft from a felony to a misdemeanor if the value of the stolen goods was worth less than $950.
That was bad enough and led to an increase in shoplifting and petty theft, but the frequency of such crimes has greatly increased since then, as emboldened criminals know district attorneys like Boudin won’t even prosecute misdemeanor violations — nor will the police waste time and resources in dealing with the crime when they, too, know that their efforts will be for naught.
That has created a consequence-free, dystopian reality in places like San Francisco where small business owners are being devastated by the constant losses due to brazen and rampant theft that is no longer deterred by surveillance cameras, security guards, or even police officers.
Stores adapting to counter theft
Local ABC affiliate KGO reported that the head of the California Retailer’s Association, Rachel Michelin, is demanding that DA Boudin do his job and actually prosecute shoplifting and theft crimes.
That demand came following a series of high-profile thefts caught on video in recent weeks, a few of which have gone viral on social media, such as a gang of 10 thieves that robbed thousands of dollars worth of goods from the handbag section of an upscale Neiman Marcus store, and a man who entered a Walgreens on a bicycle and filled up a trash bag with stolen items before riding back out after the heist.
KGO noted that many retail stores are making adjustments to deal with the non-prosecution of theft, such as Target stores closing early or Walgreens shuttering some locations altogether. Other stores are keeping front doors locked while others are, as seen in the video, locking up merchandise to counter the threat of theft.
“The answer really lies, I think partially, with the district attorney and the fact that he’s made it clear he will not prosecute many of these crimes,” Michelin said. “When people hear that, they look at San Francisco and think they can commit these crimes and there will not be any consequences for their behavior.”