A look into the causes and effects of shoplifting in light of the recent lootings in stores across the Bay Area

Anika Aggarwal

Staff Writer

     As society reopens from the pandemic and the most wonderful time of the year approaches, shoplifting across the Bay Area has increased to alarming levels. From smash-and-grabs in high-end stores and violence in malls to petty theft, there is a dramatic shift in the number of incidents being reported. Why is this happening now?

     Mr. Peffer, a social studies teacher hypothesizes, “It just happens to be around the time, it might be easy to resell the material if you steal it now, as opposed to a different time, since people might be looking for holiday discounts.”

     The holiday season might make it easier to make a quick buck by shoplifting something valuable, and reselling the items becomes an effective disposal of stolen goods. According to the San Francisco Chronicle, prices of resold stolen goods are up to 80% off the regular price

     “A lot of these are planned and a lot of them are really small in scale, or they’re planted to happen right before the store closes, so in that way, it’s easy to get in and get out,” Mr. Peffer shares.

     The shoplifting incidents might put consumers at risk due to the violent nature of some of these smash-and-grabs, possibly affecting consumers’ shopping plans.

     “It’s not a citizen’s responsibility to make sure the place they are shopping is safe. I mean some people may not want to go, but it doesn’t look like it stopped people from going to Union Square in San Francisco, so it just means people are a little higher alert when things are going around,” Mr. Peffer elaborates.

     In response to the crime sprees, the Alameda County District Attorney’s Office released the following statement: “Alameda County DA Nancy E. O’Malley announced an alliance with prosecutors from Contra Costa, Marin, Santa Clara, San Francisco, San Joaquin, and San Mateo counties, law enforcement, and state agencies to combat the recent increase in organized retail theft.”

     Angelo Ruggiero, a public information officer at the Alameda County D.A.’s office elaborated on this statement, sharing, “The purpose of our office joining forces with other elected district attorney’s offices throughout the Bay Area was to present the public, and specifically retail thieves, with a united message: We won’t tolerate these crimes. The joint effort also dedicates one prosecutor from each office and makes sure our office will work collaboratively with other jurisdictions by sharing information. This partnership can be a useful tool in not only catching suspects, but building strong cases for prosecution.” 

     She further noticed how the holiday season, generally associated with shopping and malls, is an unfortunate setting for these incidents, especially when businesses try to appeal to consumers to shop at their stores.

     “As DA O’Malley said in her statement, these crimes are particularly appalling as they are occurring during the holiday season – at a time when many folks are out and about shopping for loved ones. Malls, shopping centers and stores see an increase in customers. These types of brash, organized retail thefts instill fear in customers — making it not only bad for business, but bad for the community,” Angela Ruggiero elaborates.

     Hopefully, with the help of D.A.’s offices across the Bay Area, these crimes will decrease and thieves will be held accountable for their actions.

Image Credit: Danielle Echeverria/The Chronicle
People stand outside a boarded-up Louis Vuittton store in San Francisco that was one target of many smash-and-grab crimes.

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