After a controversial interview in which Alexandria Ocasio Cortez, a New York Rep, questioned whether rampant smash and grabs are really happening, she was attacked by GOP members and business leaders.
Ocasio Cortez stated that a lot of these allegations about organized retail theft aren’t actually panning out. She said that she believes it was a Walgreens California employee who cited it, but that the data doesn’t support this belief. These comments were met with resistance from GOP lawmakers and retail leaders, as well as Walgreens.
Walgreens stated that organized retail crime was one of the top challenges facing the company. He also said that the crime has evolved beyond shoplifting, petty theft, to the sale of stolen or counterfeit goods online.
Rep. Rodney Davis stated that he doesn’t know the data they are talking about. He said you don’t need to have a lot of data from San Francisco or California and that you can just walk down the street and see it happen. He said he’s seen it happen near one of his local drug stores when he was there to buy things. Someone will walk in and take over a shelf and then leave.
Jim Banks, a GOP rep, said Ocasio-Cortez’s comments were “tone-deaf” and offensive to the family of Kevin Nishita, an Oakland security guard. In November, Nishita was killed while trying to defend a news crew covering a smash-and-grab crime.
Nishita was a former police officer and an armed guard who provided security to many journalists in the area. He was wounded in the abdomen in an attempted robbery. The news crew was reporting on a recent smash and grab robbery at a clothing shop, as California has been hit hard by organized retail thefts. Bands of thieves have broken into high-end shops and stolen merchandise. The security guard was protecting a San Francisco TV news crew who were killed in an attempted armed robbery.
The Retail Industry Leaders Association criticized AOC’s comments, adding that the Congresswoman doesn’t know what she’s talking about. Jason Brewer, RILA senior vice president of communications, stated that both the data and the stack of video evidence make it clear that this problem is growing and requires solutions.
California has been the victim of numerous smash-and-grab attacks since November, with most of the crime occurring in and around San Francisco or Los Angeles. Dem Gov. Gavin Newsom called on local mayors to “step up” to hold the perpetrators accountable and said they should be prosecuted. Walnut Creek’s council recently approved $2 million to increase its security and police department.
The state’s police union leadership has criticized the repeated crimes and blamed Proposition 47 in California and the ACLU for backing the ballot measure. Shoplifting charges for thefts of less than nine hundred and fifty dollars were reduced to misdemeanors.
Craig Lally, president of Los Angeles Police Protective League, stated that when society takes away accountability for their behavior, criminals are empowered to commit more crimes. He said one doesn’t need to be a clairvoyant to predict that Proposition47 would make a family trip at the Home Depot or mall a dangerous gamble for citizens.