For several years, Walgreens and other major retailers have been sounding the alarm about an alleged spike in shoplifting, describing it as an existential threat to their business. These dramatic claims generated a nationwide media frenzy. Now, Walgreens is quietly
Excellent write up as usual!
Sadly, it’s more than a political impact; it’s racial too. At a time when supremacy is on the rise, all of these stories by mainstream media were generally accompanied by videos, or images of groups of young minorities, running from stores, as being the only culprits.
Under the comments were the virulent racist tropes & thinly veiled desires to open fire on them & the “someone had to do something about them” calls to action. (Very similar to what Dylan Roof said before gunning down innocent black church attendees).
Irresponsible mainstream media has fed much of the divide we have today by prioritizing outrageousness over quality reporting. They pretend to be neutral & balanced; instead they jump ahead of facts & context to try to be first & the most sensationalist, disregarding the fact each jump tears & frays the fabric of reality & people pay the price.
That was an excellent exposé, right down to what the real world impacts of such falsehoods were - the removal from office of Boudin. This was corporate lying, just think about the effects of the lies coming out of the House leadership!
The national crime wave of retailers selling deadly, addictive opioids barely gets coverage, but a few shoplifters dominate the national news narrative.
This is a perfect story about news media selection bias, which not a single major national news outlet would admit to holding because they think they’re objective.
So everyone who wants to capture public attention for political or economic purpose know that not only sex sells but fear sells and hate sells. Corporations do not seem to have ethics nor shame. Remember the Supreme Court says that corporations are “people” and I think those “people” should be held accountable and boycotting them is one way to accomplish that. Government doesn’t seem to care. Politicians use the fear. We can not count on corporations. Reputations are easily fabricated. Greenwashing comes to mind. Only public outcry works because that ultimately means profit loss.
It is always about money and greed.
This is so timely, and I hope it gets a lot of play. Mostly I hear about the "theft" that forced a Duane Reed store in upper Manhattan to close. It's now owned by Walgreen's, and the amount of outrage over the evils of shoplifting is way out of proportion. Not to mention that I had to get a clerk to unlock some deodorant from a case. I think I'll post a link to this story on Next Door, which can fill with rumors pretty quickly.
Another fascinating reality check. It’s a tragedy that supposedly citizen friendly newspapers like The NY Times play into the hands of corporate interests. No wonder too many Americans continue to vote against their best interests. They are fed corporate propaganda via channels they mistakenly trust. Let’s see if The NY Times and others will amplify this story. Great work again Judd.
This is all the more galling since Republicans played on these fears and lies in order to drum up support in the lead-up to the most recent election.
Out of control shoplifting was a major piece of the "crime is out of control" message used in the 2022 midterms. In our district, the only thing our Republican representative talked about in ads was high crime and high inflation. Notice how neither is on the National agenda? Instead, they're anxiously going after the "investigators" - the FBI and the IRS - I guess because they need to focus only on what they think is true crime, not tax cheats and insurrectionists. Just like there is an industrial-military complex, there is a business-media-Republican complex to get business friendly politicians in office.
Okay. As a San Francisco resident I am putting in my two cents, and I will repeat some comments on an earlier article. It's hard to argue with "national" or even citywide data, but the fact is that property crime HAS BEEN BAD, particularly in certain neighborhoods (like mine). And many retailers have been quoted saying they simply stopped reporting shoplifting after awhile when 1) it became too frequent and 2) it seemed (to them) that police weren't doing anything about it. Next I personally have been discouraged from filing a police report for a car break-in by an SFPD officer, and I am not alone. My neighbors have been complaining about the organized shoplifting crews that show up and have actually assaulted security guards in addition to patrons. So employees and patrons both are left to stand helplessly when these crews have come in and cleared shelves. One security guard, interviewed by the local news at my local Safeway after getting assaulted, estimated that shoplifting at that Safeway occurred probably "a hundred" times a day. Police have in the last year actually arrested many members of large shoplifting rings operating in this area -- which were nationwide organizations, as it turns out -- and broken up their operations locally.
Last night Brooke Jenkins was sworn in, having been elected after serving as Chesa Boudin's replacement. She had worked in his office and resigned to then get him out. She is an SF native and a person of color who knows her city. I went back and forth on whether to vote for Chesa Boudin's recall after reading many different sides of this story over many months. It was really hard to figure out what the "real" situation was if you weren't already entrenched in your opinion, however, it was very telling to me that there were several resignations of attorneys at his office not long after he was in office, AND a couple of the lesser publicized stories of his office's policy, to me, revealed a really boneheaded approach to prosecuting crimes.
In short, this is not a cut-and-dried issue. Walgreens may have catastrophized the shoplifting problem, but that doesn't mean there has not been one. Chesa Boudin may have had his heart in the right place, but that doesn't mean he did a good job.
Nice job -- thanks!
I was waiting for the second shoe to drop -- the extravagant magnitude of these same corps' wage theft from their employees
I believe wage theft dwarfs the actual levels of "shrink" (of whatever source) experienced for each
This is a message from my brother Jack Santana who’s a Walmart employee in WA state....
I do agree that it isn't "democratic policies" that cause the real or perceived increase in retail theft. And it is absolutely true that employees constitute a big part of the problem. The one thing I disagree with is the police stats--California increased the value threshold for theft and that's probably why they aren't getting cases. In Everett the police will not come out against shoplifters unless there is violence or they are multiple repeat offenders. Our store has begun locking up "mundane" items like blue jeans and laundry detergent. I feel like Starbucks is the most egregious of the corporate liars on this issue. They are closing stores using the theft and safety excuse when it's really union busting that's going on. The real story tho and the main cause of the increase in theft (if there is one) is "short staffing". This leaves very few "floor" associates--there's no one around and thefts might be going up. It's all about profits-- as usual.
Looking at some of the other comments here, there's a couple of things that need addressed.
First off, professional, organized shoplifting is a thing, but it is RARE. most retail businesses will never see a single case. Commonplace, day to day pilfering is everywhere and accounts for most of the losses.
Second, the large scale theft is almost always reported. Yes, most businesses are slow to report shoplifting and even slower to prosecute. But that's because the vast majority of shoplifting is small, low cost items that simply aren't worth the time and effort to go after legally. If you catch anyone in this category, you just ban them from the store and move on.
Third, the majority of inventory shrink isn't shoplifting, it's everything from employee theft, to simple error (ask me how many times I've left a store without paying for everything and I can't tell you) to improper paperwork (not properly counting waste items is the biggie here).
Yes. BTW we are locked into Walgreens for our prescriptions because of our insurance. Well put. Perhaps the creative power of the thread’s brain power can come up with other viable approaches.
Walgreens is not a store I ever frequent, in person or online. Its politics are much too conservative, unless you enjoy shopping in a retro 50's, patriarchally run, antiquated setting. The store's policies seem discriminatory, their prices inflated, their customer service unfriendly and draconian. Unfortunately, like other convenience outlets PLUS, the store locations are in neighborhoods where customers are left with little retail choices and, consequently, are routinely exploited. This piece, I think, would have carried additional weight had it centered more on the political consequences of Walgreens' anti-social, exaggerated claims about crime and shoplifting. Almost a junior version of Hobby Lobby.
This is the reason independent journalism is crucial. Your piece cited a few media outlets, but others were guilty of this charade. One of MSNBC’s primary sources for “analysis” is NYT reporters. Corporate media is too eager to be ‘in the conversation’ rather than get to the full picture, and if they attempt a full picture, they drift into bothsideism.
How lazy have reporters and editors become that they don't pick up the phone and find out actual crime data from police? When I was a reporter in the 1980s, we were taught to not just regurgitate press releases. It's gotten to the point that I can't watch any newscasts, including NewsHour, without questioning their information. Judd, you should write guest opinion pieces in the major outlets as a counter balance to the right-wing lies and distortions the Post and Times run.