People are furious about this!
Jen Paski, White House press secretary, revealed during a press briefing on Thursday that the origin of the sudden increase in retail crime is the COVID-19 pandemic. She added that the Biden administration is working alongside affected communities across the nation to “crack down” on this type of organized retail crime.
Paski also revealed that President Biden was calling to increase funding to support local police departments, ensuring local communities could work “in partnership to crack down on crime and any dangers they see in their communities.”
This increase in local police funding comes in addition to the administration implementing strike forces from the Department of Justice in several communities across the country. Paski added that “the president absolutely believes that community police forces can have an important instrumental effect in helping keep communities safe.”
Paski pointed out that guns and gun violence had been the “root” causes of crime in communities but mentioned that the pandemic was also a root cause for numerous communities.
Also on Thursday, a White House official disclosed to Fox News that the administration was closely monitoring reports of looting, announcing that they were reviewing videos documenting the thefts.
“This sort of conduct is absolutely unacceptable, and we’re using every resource at our disposal to support local authorities and crack down on organized retail theft,” the official said, indicating that the Department of Justice, alongside federal law enforcement and the FBI were in contact with jurisdictions where looting took place to offer assistance in investigations.
One example of this in action was Los Angeles, which was hit hard by looting. The official said the FBI was assisting a multi-jurisdictional task force led by the LAPD and Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department to find the perpetrators behind these crimes.
Further explaining to Fox News that the president had given communities “historic levels of funding through the Rescue Plan,” enabling communities to get more cops on the beat.
News about this increase comes as the Department of Justice announced San Francisco and Los Angeles will receive $140 million funding through the COPS program to hire 50 and 20 more police officers respectively.
“These are all steps that we know are going to reduce crime and make our communities, our neighborhoods, and our stores safer for all of us,” the official said.
A push to increase police intervention is hardly surprising. Smash-and-grab robberies continue to plague cities across the country. One incident even led to the death of a Californian security guard – retired San Jose police officer Kevin Nishita – who was protecting a news crew reporting on crime in the area.
So far, California has been the hardest hit. Incidents range from thieves stealing $25,000 in high-end purses stolen from a Nordstrom in Topanga Mall to an estimated $30,000 in sunglasses from a Sunglass Hut in Monterey.
This worrying trend corroborates data coming from the National Retail Federation. The NRF revealed that most of the affected cities are in California – with Los Angeles, San Francisco, Seattle, and Sacramento making the list. However, this organized retail crime is also rapidly spreading in Chicago, New York, Miami, Houston, Atlanta, Baltimore, and Las Vegas.
The NRF report details an increase in shoplifting and robberies linked to organized retail crime. It also reported that retailers had experienced a 69% increase in organized retail crime, with many citing policing, changes to sentencing guidelines, COVID-19, and the growth of online shopping as the primary reasons for this type of crime.
Of the retailers who participated in the study, the NRF reported that 78% felt a federal organized retail crime law could “effectively combat” this rapidly advancing crime, as the issue crosses state lines.