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Grocery chain president says theft and violence have increased significantly: 'And for politicians to blame businesses … for leaving is embarrassing'

Jahi Chikwendiu/The Washington Post via Getty Images

Giant Food president Ira Kress said that theft and violence have risen significantly over the past several years.

"To say [theft has] risen tenfold in the last five years would not be an understatement," Kress noted, according to the Washington Post, which also reported that the man said that violence has "increased exponentially."

Giant has more than 160 locations, with stores located in Maryland; Virginia; Washington, D.C.; and Delaware, according to its website.

So far, the company has not shut down any stores, the Post reported.

"The last thing I want to do is close stores," Kress said, according to the outlet. "But I've got to be able to run them safely and profitably."

"We used to chase shoplifters," he noted. "And you'd get the product back, and nobody would ever fight you. … I didn't worry about somebody pulling a knife or gun on me [40] years ago."

"It's laughable for any of our politicians — and I've offered to meet and talk with any of them — to be ignorant to what's going on in their communities, in their jurisdictions, with their constituents," Kress said, according to the outlet. "And for politicians to blame businesses … for leaving is embarrassing."

Last year, the Post reported that police said a security guard and a woman shot at each other at a Giant in Prince George's County, Maryland. The outlet reported that police indicated that the woman had been "attempting to commit a theft" by stashing goods in her backpack, but when the security guard approached, she opened fire. The security guard returned fire, police reportedly noted. Both individuals ultimately died.

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