Black Friday is famous for its Christmas sales and packed stores, but if the surge in retail theft — brazen attacks by flash mobs — continues, there soon might be no stores left to pack.
Places like Los Angeles, the San Francisco Bay Area and Chicago are seeing waves of “smash and grab” raids, leading some shops to simply shut down. The looters break windows, flood stores, beat and pepper-spray employees and make off with hundreds of thousands of dollars in goods.
In Walnut Creek, Calif., near San Francisco, a mob of 80 stormed a Nordstrom on Saturday, attacking employees and grabbing merchandise by the armful. A day earlier, a mob hit San Francisco’s Union Square, targeting 10 retailers.
Chicago’s Magnificent Mile shopping district likewise has endured skyrocketing theft, including a robbery of a Neiman Marcus just last week by three carloads of perps. Vacant stores now make up a long stretch of North Michigan Avenue.
This is on top of massive shoplifting (basically decriminalized for small amounts in California) that has retail chains closing outlets by the dozen in Golden State cities.
This week, the San Francisco DA charged nine suspects with felonies for shoplifting worth more than $1 million — yet they’re a fraction of those involved. Fact is, with police overwhelmed, woke prosecutors refusing to make such crimes a priority and criminal penalties heavily reduced, looters (and the crime rings they work for) often face little or no consequences. Organized retail robbery has become a rational career choice.
Gotham, for its part, has been lucky — so far: Aside from last year’s rioting after the George Floyd killing, it’s been spared smash-and-grab outbreaks. Yet stores here, too, have seen a tidal wave of thefts, with more than 26,000 shoplifting cases through September alone, the most to that point in the 26 years the numbers have been tracked.
Last month, The Post reported that 22-year-old Isaac “Man of Steal” Rodriguez had been arrested 46 times for retail theft this year, and quickly released each time. The National Retail Federation ranked New York City fourth in “organized retail crime” among top metro areas.
It’s not just businesses that suffer: Shoppers, too, lose out when stores close, and face higher prices because remaining retails must cover losses, insurance and security. Organized robberies now cost US retailers a whopping $65 billion a year.
Fueling these crimes is the same thing driving the spike in big-city murders: overreaching criminal-justice “reforms,” police departments shrinking in the wake of the Defund the Police movement and progressives’ general anti-cop hostility.
“Why should a police officer waste time getting into an altercation when the person is not going to jail?” asks Pete Eliadis, a former law-enforcement official and founder of Intelligence Consulting Partners.
If that doesn’t change, get set to do all your shopping online — until criminals target that, too.