Plastic bag ban leads to nationwide increase in shoplifting rates

“Since the fee was established last year, we have noticed customers using traditional bags, along with less traditional pieces such as backpacks, to not only transport items from the store, but to carry items throughout the store,” spokesman of the Advisory Neighborhood Commission of Washington D.C. Craig Muckle said in an interview with Washington City Paper.

This suspicion solidified into disturbing data a year later on the other side of the country. When a Seattle ordinance banning plastic bags took effect on July 2012, 21.1 percent of surveyed Seattle business owners said that the plastic bag ban led to an increase in shoplifting problems. Seattle’s Lake City Grocery Outlet, for instance, had thousands of dollars worth of goods stolen that year.

Austin, Texas instituted a plastic bag ban in March of this year and officials have noticed that shoplifters are trying to take advantage of the new law, though no conclusive data exists on the subject.

“We are getting a new type of offender that is taking advantage of the system,” Austin police officer David Silva said in an interview with the Leader-Telegram.