A few years ago, California passed one in a series of bills aimed at emptying the jails and prisons. Proposition 47 carried the disingenuous name of “the Safe Neighborhoods and Schools Act and its stated purpose was to keep non-violent offenders out of jail. To achieve this goal, the state decriminalized a number of lesser offenses, including retail theft. The law raised the value of the amount of merchandise someone could steal while still only being charged with a misdemeanor to nearly one thousand dollars.As mentioned above, one of those crimes is theft of store merchandise - shoplifting – of goods worth less than $1000. The result?
Shoplifting has skyrocketed in California.
The shoplifters are smart enough to not steal above $1000 worth of merchandise on an individual basis. The side-effect is that groups of shoplifters hit a retail store at the same time, overwhelming the store staff, and making off with tens of thousands of dollars’ worth of merchandise and doing so in only a couple of minutes. Some of the high-end stores have lost $40,000 during every mass grab and dash theft, something that is unsustainable.
What’s worse is that other blue states have been following in California’s footsteps and are seeing the same thing.
The fact is that there are always going to be a certain number of people who will be willing to break the law if they don’t feel the risk of significant punishment is too high. An understanding of this fundamental principle is why the “broken windows” policies enacted in New York City and other municipalities in the 90s were so effective.There are a couple of possible outcomes should California or any of the other blue states refuse to undo such foolish legislation: 1) Stores realize the losses are unsustainable and either relocate to lower crime areas or close their doors, or; 2) Do as many jewelry stores have done and limit the number of people allowed in the store at any one time, being buzzed in and out remotely, reducing or eliminating the possibility of shoplifting. It also adds cost and reduces profits.
Sadly, liberal elected officials paint a picture of racism and inequity behind effective law enforcement initiatives….This leads to laws like prop 47 hoping to keep more of them out of the “school to prison pipeline.”
But when you make it easier and less risky to steal larger amounts of goods, people will steal more merchandise. Did it really take a rocket scientist to figure this out? California basically incentivized crime and potential criminals answered the call.
Of the two, the first is more likely than the second. Thriving retail areas will become ghost towns of boarded up store fronts. It will be a return to the big city malaise of the 70’s and everything that goes with it, and every bit of it will have been the result of Progressive laws and government policies.