Though elected officials and even many corporate leaders are loathe to admit it, retail theft has surged to astonishing levels in many Democrat-run cities — with Portland, Oregon being a prime example — in large part due to soft-on-crime policies of the leftist progressives who run those cities.
In late February, Walmart announced that it would close its final two stores that are located within the city limits of Portland, Not the Bee reported.
To be sure, the big-box retail giant has not come right out and said that it is closing those two stores because of rampant theft, but prior remarks last year from the company’s CEO about theft, as well as other former businesses in the city who have openly blamed theft for their own closures, seem to provide the unspoken reason for the decision.
Local Fox affiliate KPTV reported on Feb. 22 that the last two Walmart stores located within Portland’s city limits would close their doors for the last time by late March, ostensibly because they were “not meeting financial expectations.”
“The decision to close these stores was made after a careful review of their overall performance,” a Walmart spokesperson said. “We consider many factors, including current and projected financial performance, location, population, customer needs, and the proximity of other nearby stores when making these difficult decisions. After we decide to move forward, our focus is on our associates and their transition, which is the case here.”
The spokesperson added that the pharmacy staff would work closely with customers to transfer prescription information to other nearby pharmacies while other workers were given the option of transferring to any of the more than a dozen Walmart stores that will still be open in the area, albeit outside of the city’s limits.
Rampant and unpunished criminality
Independent journalist Andy Ngo took note of the news and tweeted Thursday, “Walmart has announced it will permanently close all its locations in Portland, Ore. Walmart has long been harshly criticized by the city’s left-wing politicians & residents, but this shutdown follows the consequences of the 2020 BLM-Antifa riots that normalized urban criminality.”
Ngo raised two very valid points, in that the far-left progressives who reside in and run Portland have indeed been quite hostile toward corporations like Walmart, and the mass looting and rioting in 2020 — not to mention the dearth of prosecutions from leftist district attorneys — did, in fact, help “normalize” urban criminality like shoplifting and retail theft.
Interestingly enough, a September 2022 report from KPTV revealed that a survey of local businesses conducted earlier in the year by the Organized Retail Crime Association of Oregon had found that 95 percent were dissatisfied with how the city dealt with property crimes, 80 percent said “theft had gone up significantly” over the past two years, and 80 percent said the police response to such crimes was inadequate.
“We’ve seen an increase in assaults, in drug use within the stores, threats, individuals threatening with weapons,” Jeremy Girard, president of ORCAOR, told the outlet. “Some of the feedback I’ve gotten from retailers is that they feel hopeless right now.”
“Most of these individuals know that the police aren’t going to respond,” he added with regard to the increasingly bold and often professional and repeat thieves. “If they do get caught, they are most likely not going to be prosecuted. If they are prosecuted, they aren’t probably going to spend a lot of time in jail for this type of crime.”
“Theft is an issue,” Walmart CEO admits
Fox Business also reported on the recently announced Walmart store closures within Portland but looked past the carefully-worded statements from the corporation’s spokespeople to some rather revealing remarks made in December by Walmart CEO Doug McMillon in a CNBC interview, in which he acknowledged that “Theft is an issue. It’s higher than what it has historically been,” and that “prices will be higher and/or stores will close” if cities didn’t do more to address the problem.
Perhaps a bit more to the point was a message posted on the door of a small Portland clothing store called Rains PDX that closed its doors for good in November — just one of dozens that have done so over the past several months — that specifically cited the “unpunished” criminal activity and lack of financial support from insurance companies as the reason.
“Our city is in peril. Small businesses (and large) cannot sustain doing business, in our city’s current state. We have no protection, or recourse, against the criminal behavior that goes unpunished,” the store’s note read. “Do not be fooled into thinking that insurance companies cover losses. We have sustained 15 break-ins … we have not received any financial reimbursement since the 3rd.”