Maybe this will get CA to take shoplifting seriously

(AP Photo/Ebrahim Noroozi)

I doubt it. But we can hope.

Shoplifting has gotten so out of hand in California that the value of the goods stolen just keeps going up. But this time thieves struck at a California icon–Apple–and if this doesn’t motivate the law to get involved, then it will take a large-scale theft of Bud Light to do the trick.


Come to think of it, InBev might welcome having their beer stolen. It’s the only way to clear it off the shelves.

Seriously, though, the scale of theft in the Bay Area and other large cities is astronomical. When four people can simply walk into a store and steal more than $50,000 of products with the certainty that absolutely nothing will be done you know that something is fundamentally broken in our society.

Four young men stole more than $50,000 in goods from the Berkeley Apple store on Sunday after telling a security guard, “You can’t stop us,” authorities report.

The group was able to scoop up the merchandise within just a few minutes, then fled the scene in a Toyota Sienna minivan that had been taken during a recent carjacking in Oakland, the Berkeley Police Department said.

Police spotted the Toyota Sienna nearby and chased it — but lost it on the freeway.

Authorities later found the minivan abandoned in Oakland with many of the stolen items still inside.

So you have carjacking–also a serious problem in modern American cities–and massive theft. Also police indifference–how do you lose a MINIVAN on a highway? That takes some special skill or total indifference. A Toyota Sienna isn’t a white Bronco, but it is just as pokey and just as easy to spot.


Many people will note that Apple can easily just disable the devices, but that isn’t the point at all. As with the Walgreens thefts, the products don’t get sold for massive amounts of money, but for drug money. Walgreens merchandise is sold on the streets or on eBay, and Apple products will be broken down and sold for parts that still can be used. In fact, chances are decent that if you crack your screen and get it replaced by a third party, the parts were stolen.

Not only does this raise prices for everybody else, but it leads to a fundamental breakdown of society. We hardly think of it, but societies run on trust more than law enforcement. The police and court systems exist to deal with edge cases, not to force the average citizen to obey the law. But if the entire system breaks down a larger group of people who are not ethical, but deterred by fear, will begin engaging in crime.

Then this happens:

Everything gets put behind glass because nobody can be sure that they won’t get ripped off all the time.

How many purchases are made on credit? I’ll tell you: many purchases are made by businesses, for sure, who get stock and pay for it as it gets sold. Social trust allows far more friendliness and efficiency, reducing friction. If everything is hidden behind glass then suddenly you need a person to get it for you. Everything becomes the same as picking up your prescription, with lines.


Waiting to buy your bread or toothpaste is one of the things that we looked at in contempt when we thought of the Soviet Union.

If enough people become scammers and thieves, you become a chump for refusing to be one.

Apple won’t be much hurt by getting ripped off. Their profit margins are famously high. But Apple’s customers will be, as it becomes more difficult to walk into a store and browse.

Allowing this is a choice. Shoplifting used to be a nuisance; now it is a thriving organized business with suppliers, supply chains, organized distribution methods, and, of course, support from government officials who let it happen.

Decline is a choice. And we know who is making that choice.

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