Since the racial justice riots that erupted in the wake of George Floyd’s death over a year ago, major metropolitan areas have become hotbeds for shoplifting, frustrating members of the affected communities.
A video posted recently on social media depicts two individuals filling shopping carts with expensive electrical wires before calmly walking out the store, filling the trunk of their car with the stolen items, and driving off.
2 people walk out of an Oregon Lowe’s with carts of stolen merchandise.
Employees look on and are unable to do anything. pic.twitter.com/bHBy1M8HVK
— Libs of Tik Tok (@libsoftiktok) September 5, 2021
Local resident Andrew Sullivan expressed his disgust with the lawlessness to the Keizer Times. “It was so blatant, that’s what riled me up. They were just strolling through the parking lot, just riding the carts,” he said.
The crime was committed in broad daylight on August 25, when the pair escorted thousands of dollars of electrical wire out of the store in shopping carts while employees stood by unable to intervene.
When employee attempted to ask the shoplifters to prove their purchases, the men ignored the request and hurried out the door. A second employee also tried to thwart them, saying “Hey don’t do this. It’s not worth it,” he said.
Sullivan suggested that the men were seasoned shoplifters banking on the workers being powerless to stop them, noting that a getaway car was already waiting outside the store front.
“I think these guys have done it before because they seemed to have a good system. One guy with the car and two guys with the carts. They knew no one was going to touch them,” he said.
While local police are reportedly investigating the incident, Keizer Police Lt. Andrew Copeland told Fox News that shoplifters aren’t the top priority for jailing given that many prisons are trying to minimize capacity amid the pandemic.
Copeland said that many Oregon chain stores prevent retailers and their staff from stopping theft, adding that such offenders would likely not be incarcerated and would only receive fines and citations as penalties.
“Once you’ve stolen from Lowe’s once and know they can’t stop you, there’s no real consequence,” he said. “Second thing is, these people know they can’t go to jail.”
States ranging from Oregon to Washington to California have seen a surge in shoplifting recently, at least partially triggered by state laws that inhibit or outright prohibit stores from enforcing against robbery.
For instance, California’s Prop 47 lowered the punishments for shoplifting, raising the incentive for lawbreakers to steal merchandise from stores.