“Retail crime has been rising throughout the US for the past five years… top law-enforcement officials place some of the blame for the crime surge on a widespread lessening of penalties for shoplifting.” — NY Post, 1/22/22

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As the CEO of a large retail chain, I’m outraged by the dramatic rise in shoplifting over the past year. Petty crooks are making off with almost 2 percent of our revenue each year, which is why, as this pandemic rages on, I can think of no other problem more pressing in America than low-level retail theft, and I believe politicians and the media must discuss it ad nauseam until we have solved it.

Just yesterday, bandits made off with thousands of dollars worth of puffy jackets from one of our stores in Kalamazoo. And I ask you, is there anything more despicable than people stealing warm coats in the middle of a Michigan winter, either to keep for themselves or to sell online for a slightly lower price than what you’d pay in the store?

And it’s not just chain stores like mine that have been impacted. These burglars have hit small businesses too. And when you ransack a small business, nobody is hurt more than the large insurance companies who process their claims. A close friend of mine is the CEO of an insurance company that is now in the unthinkable situation of having to shell out large amounts of money to the businesses it insures in order to cover unexpected losses that were no fault of their own, which was never the intended purpose of insurance. His company has had no choice but to deny thousands of those claims on technical grounds. So, as you can see, the impacts of this spate of larcenies are far reaching.

For those that don’t think this is a big deal, think about it this way: If you found out corporations were stealing billions of dollars from working-class people through excessive overdraft fees and unpaid overtime, wouldn’t that fill you with rage? This is just like that, except in reverse and less money!

Mind you, these aren’t petty criminals either. These are organized gangs! We need these cartels to leave large retail empires alone and go back to less impactful forms of crime like human trafficking and getting vulnerable people addicted to drugs.

And while some argue the way to reduce crime is to address the underlying systemic inequalities and lack of access to opportunity that lead to crime, the faster, cheaper, and more satisfying solution is to go after the liberal DAs who are no longer willing to send people to jail for several decades for stealing clothing and food.

These anecdotal examples of elaborate retail heists are proof that defunding the police has been an abject failure and that we must return to the draconian law enforcement tactics that have been proven to reduce this one particular type of crime while causing a couple of unintended side effects that we’d prefer not to think about. And pay no mind to the argument that very few police departments across the country have actually faced any kind of budget cuts or layoffs. It’s a known fact that the very concept of defunding itself is devastating, because, like the Candyman, if you whisper, “Defund the police,” three times, the crime rate in the city instantly quadruples. It has nothing to do with the massive disruption the pandemic caused or the fact that gun sales hit an all-time high in 2020.

Look, I want what every average American wants: safe neighborhoods, a ski chalet a few doors down from Mariah Carey’s, good schools, my own private tiger zoo, decent health care, and one of those boats that’s so big it has another boat on it. But none of us can have any of those things until we address this one hyper-specific facet of criminality that isn’t necessarily that pervasive but nonetheless feels scary, and use it as a way to attack criminal justice reform and distract from other forms of societal improvement that might hurt my bottom line. That’s why I’m calling on every news outlet to blast countless retail theft stories as far and wide as they can until we have stoked the necessary fear that will allow us to achieve our goals.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, my employees are talking about unionizing for higher wages and I need to nip that in the bud. I can’t let them rob me blind!