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Horowitz: Woke companies that funded BLM agenda now complain about looters, thieves on the loose

Op-ed
John Smith/VIEWpress/Getty Images

We definitely need to get tougher on sentencing looters and store robbers, but we should exempt those criminals from prison time if they loot one of the big corporations that helped spawn this epidemic of shoplifting to begin with.

Last week, the Retail Industry Leaders Association, representing 20 major retailers, sent a letter to Congress asking legislators to deal with the growing theft, shoplifting, and “smash-and-grab” mob attacks on retail stores. The corporations represented include giants like Target, Best Buy, Nordstrom, Home Depot, and CVS.

"As millions of Americans have undoubtedly seen on the news in recent weeks and months, retail establishments of all kinds have seen a significant uptick in organized crime in communities across the nation," said the letter.

The group’s solution is to push the Notification and Fairness in Online Retail Marketplaces for Consumers Act, which attempts to help inform consumers and online platforms about the sale of illicit products on the market. But that is treating the symptoms, and not even the most evident ones stemming from the crime wave acknowledged in this letter. Why not treat the problem?

The reason is that the problem is not a natural disaster. It began around 2015, when states began passing “criminal justice reform” at the behest of these very companies. They are now learning the hard way that when you call theft a low-level crime and essentially decriminalize it – at least in terms of incarceration – well, you will get more theft. These companies have funded the policies, organizations, and politicians behind the decriminalization and de-incarceration laws.

According to a 2020 survey of 61 retailers by the National Retail Federation, organized retail theft skyrocketed by nearly 60% since 2015 and cost stores an average of $719,548 per $1 billion dollars in sales. What changed around that time? Since California passed Prop 47 in 2014 and other numerous sentencing downgrades and early releases, violent crime has risen 13 percent, and there was a significant increase in burglary, larceny, and auto theft in 2015 and 2016. This is why we are seeing “smash and grab” flash mobs in California more than anywhere else. They know that if they steal less than $950 at a time, they will not be punished, but even for thefts larger than that sum, they practically never serve time in jail, even for repeat offenses. There is literally no deterrent.

But it’s not just California. In 2017, Oklahoma passed State Question 780, which also downgraded theft and led to an entire black market created from brazen shoplifting in once safe central Oklahoma.

So ironically, the companies’ beef has nothing to do with Congress, but with state governments that reversed a generation-long trend of tough-on-crime laws. Who is responsible? These CEOs need to look in the mirror. Target promised $10 million in support of the BLM agenda, which is largely responsible for the effort to defund or deter the police, reduce sentencing, and let criminals out of jail. Home Depot donated $1 million to the pro-criminal Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, which is one of the lead organizations pushing the de-incarceration agenda. CVS pledged $600 million to combat “systemic racism,” which is the lead argument used to push the fallacy of over-incarceration.

The chickens have now come home to roost. These CEOs don’t care about the robberies, rapes, and murders that have increased because of the woke policies, foundations, and candidates they support. It’s only when it affects them with uncontrolled shoplifting that they finally discover the consequences, yet still refuse to address the root cause. Thanks to the BLM agenda, Soros prosecutors, and de-incarceration legislation that they support, ABC News reported that 12 U.S. cities have now set all-time records for homicide this year: Portland, Ore.; Indianapolis, Ind.; Toledo, Ohio; Rochester, N.Y.; Philadelphia, Penn.; Columbus, Ohio; Baton Rouge, La.; Austin, Texas; Albuquerque, N.M.; Tucson, Ariz.; St. Paul, Minn.; and Louisville, Ky. What about the endless property crimes and car thefts that citizens must deal with every day, often going uncompensated? They don’t have a voice with Congress or state legislators now that these 20 big corporations have created a monopoly for politicians who side with criminals.

Indeed, if these CEOs really cared about the robbery epidemic, they would pledge to stop funding pro-criminal candidates, organizations, and district attorneys. Until they get on the right side of what caused this problem, they should not be allowed to dictate narrowly tailored solutions that only address the part of the mess they created that affects their bottom line.

Are these corporations really worried about the lawlessness on the streets, or are they using the BLM-driven chaos they helped fuel to pass a bill that will go after legitimate third-party online vendors that are undercutting them with cheaper prices?

The bottom line is that their solution will not rectify the problem of career criminals like Karim Clayton. Known as the serial CVS bandit, Clayton, a registered sex offender with a history of robbing CVS stores, was arrested for assault and battery on Sunday, Sept. 26, in Fairfax County, Va., and released on bail the very next morning, The next day, he was arrested for … you guessed it … robbing a CVS. He has barely served time in prison for all his infractions, including child sex abuse and crashing his car during a police chase, and even committed these crimes while out on an ankle monitor.

The point is that the people who are robbing large retailers are the same people harming citizens and are the same individuals who are facing no consequences or deterrent because of the Soros DAs, weak sentencing laws, and war on cops. What we need is a bill to get these people behind bars, not some oblique technology bill that seems designed to deal with another issue entirely.

Let’s face it, large retail chains, unlike mom-and-pop stores that get robbed, have the economies of scale to bake the loss of shoplifting into the cost of the products. What really concerns them is the technology crime and even legitimate online competition from people who have committed no crimes other than the ones these retailers would like to create. These CEOs are just using the crime wave as an excuse to advance their agenda, all the while continuing to fund the very politicians and NGOs that have successfully dismantled law and order in this country.
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