These incidents keep happening in California. In July a brazen shoplifting at a San Francisco Walgreens made news. That was followed by a similar incident at Neiman Marcus and yet another at a TJ Maxx store in Los Angeles. All of them took place in broad daylight.
Yesterday KNBC reported on another incident which was caught on video. This time it happened at a Marshalls store in Hemet, a city located about halfway between Orange County and Palm Springs. One of the shoplifters brought wire cutters so she could remove the security wire and steal handbags.
A witness says the shoplifters calmly walked inside and took anything they wanted.
One even used a wire cutter to carefully cut off security leashes on some expensive purses.
Saturday evening, Lindsey Rodriguez shot a video of a man casually walking out of a Marshalls in Hemet, with his arms full of clothing that Rodriguez says he did not pay for.
“I worked every single day, 40 hours a week during this whole pandemic, and then I go in and see that, and it’s disheartening. It’s not Hemet,” she says.
Lindsey Rodriquez filmed the two and followed them out to their car. She also called police and was able to give them a license plate for the car in which they drove away. Strangely, employees at Marshalls watched the whole thing happen and didn’t even call the police or report the theft. I understand companies have policies preventing employees from chasing shoplifters out of the store. But this is the first time I’ve heard of them not even bothering to call police.
A police Sgt. who spoke to Fox Business suggested one possible reason for that non-response. Because of changes to California law, nothing much will happen to the shoplifters even if they are caught:
Los Angeles Police Department Sgt. Jerretta Sandoz added after the TJ Maxx incident that she blames Prop 47, a 2014 referendum that lowered criminal sentences on crimes such as shoplifting, for the recent increases.
“If they’re caught, they’re probably given the equivalent of a traffic ticket,” she said. “So it’s not taken seriously.”
I guess it’s possible that Marshalls has decided the potential social cost of calling the police on shoplifters, who in this case were black, could be a lot higher than the wholesale value of those stolen items. They may even be right about that. These days it doesn’t take much for people to decide an entire organization is racist.
The problem of course is that once thieves know a business has essentially given up on doing anything to stop them, they are more likely to return or to inspire others to do so. Lindsey Rodriguez who shot the video told NBC4, “We need to start standing up for ourselves because nobody else is doing it right now.” That’s certainly how it looks to me.