San Francisco ranks as the fifth-worst city in the US when it comes to retail theft. Now, the problem is getting so bad that businesses like Target and Walgreens are being forced to make drastic changes in response.
“For more than a month, we’ve been experiencing a significant and alarming rise in theft and security incidents at our San Francisco stores,” a Target spokesperson said. “With the safety of our guests, team members and communities as our top priority, we’ve temporarily reduced our operating hours in six San Francisco stores.”
Target stores normally stay open to 10:00 pm, but many in the San Francisco area will now close their doors at 5:00 pm or 6:00 pm. Meanwhile, Walgreens stores are faring even worse, with some shutting their doors altogether.
“Representatives from Walgreens said that thefts at its stores in San Francisco were four times the chain’s national average, and that it had closed 17 stores, largely because the scale of thefts had made business untenable,” the New York Times reported.
This isn’t just a problem at big-box retailers, either. The California Retailers Association has decried the rampant theft, which is hurting Golden State businesses small and large. Theft has gotten so bad in some parts of San Francisco that it is beyond belief.
“I’m new to San Francisco,” Times journalist Thomas Fuller told a grocery store clerk shortly after moving to the city. “Is it optional to pay for things here?” It sounds like an absurd thing to ask, but Fuller explains that he was genuinely forced to wonder what was going on after he witnessed people walk into Walgreens and Safeway, grab stuff, and walk out.
The dysfunction-driven closures and scale-backs at major retailers will hurt everyday Californians. From the workers whose hours are cut to the customers who can’t get the products they need, this undermining of the market will have many victims beyond just those who are directly robbed.
The sad affair is another reminder of the timeless truth described by economist Thomas Sowell, who said that property rights “belong legally to individuals, but their real function is social, to benefit vast numbers of people who do not themselves exercise these rights.”
Protecting property rights is a necessary precursor for basic economic activity to function. As I previously explained on FEE.org:
“When property rights are insecure or routinely violated—widespread looting and arson are prime examples—the very foundation of a community’s economy is undermined. Investors understandably balk at the uncertainty and forgo investing there, while entrepreneurs cannot launch new enterprises or even continue current ones without the knowledge that they will be secure in their property. As a result, job opportunities and income streams dry up.”
This is why millions of our taxpayer dollars are given to police departments and other government agencies tasked with enforcing property and protecting our rights. But in San Francisco, they’ve woefully failed this most basic responsibility.
A 2014 ballot referendum downgraded theft of goods less than $950 in value to just a misdemeanor, a slap on the wrist, and the city’s enforcement against shoplifters has dwindled in the years since.
That’s why Target and Walgreens are being forced to take drastic actions to protect their stores. But if widespread violation of property rights continues unpunished, they won’t be the last businesses in San Francisco to close their doors in response.
Like this story? Click here to sign up for the FEE Daily and get free-market news and analysis like this from Policy Correspondent Brad Polumbo in your inbox every weekday.
Brad Polumbo (@Brad_Polumbo) is a libertarian-conservative journalist and Policy Correspondent at the Foundation for Economic Education.
This article was originally published on FEE.org. Read the original article.
New Conservative Network Seeks Crowdfunding Help
They say we have to go big or go home. We’re trying to go big and bring the patriotic truth the the nation, but we need help.
Readers may or may not realize that over the past year, we’ve been bringing more conservative news and opinion outlets under our wing. Don’t take our expansion as a sign of riches; all of the “acquisitions” have been through sweat and promises of greater things to come for all involved. As a result, we’ve been able to bring together several independent media sites under a unified vision of preventing America from succumbing to the progressive, “woke,” Neo-Marxist ideologies that are spreading like wildfire across America.
The slow and steady reopening of America is revealing there was a lot more economic hardship brought about from the Covd-19 lockdowns than most realize. While we continue to hope advertising dollars on the sites go up, it’s simply not enough to do things the right way. We are currently experiencing a gap between revenue and expenses that cannot be overcome by click-ads and MyPillow promos alone (promo code “NOQ” by the way).
To overcome our revenue gap and keep these sites running, our needs fluctuate between $3000-$7000 per month. In other words, we’re in the red and hemorrhaging.
The best way you can help us grow and continue to bring the truth to the people is by donating. We appreciate everything, whether a dollar or $10,000. Anything brings us closer to a point of stability when we can hire writers, editors, and support staff to make the America First message louder. Our Giving Fuel page makes it easy to donate one-time or monthly. Alternatively, you can donate through PayPal as well.
As the world spirals towards radical progressivism, the need for truthful journalism has never been greater. But in these times, we need as many conservative media voices as possible. Please help keep NOQ Report and the other sites in the network going.
Thank you and God Bless,