In an interview with The Washington Times, Ocasio-Cortez attempted to dismiss the growing problem, claiming that “[A] lot of these allegations of organized retail theft are not actually panning out. I believe it’s a Walgreens in California cited it, but the data didn’t back it up.”
She made the baseless claim despite dozens of videos documenting the outbreak of attacks by rampaging thieves and reports from major box stores across the country of increased organized shoplifting and violent attacks on employees.
Walgreens told the Times that the problem “has evolved beyond shoplifting and petty theft to the sale of stolen and counterfeit goods online.” Walgreens noted that theft at its San Francisco stores has become so bad that security costs are 46 times greater than the average Walgreens store.
Jason Brewer, Senior Executive Vice President of Communications of the Retail Industry Leaders Association, told the Times that Ocasio-Cortez “has no idea what she is talking about,” and that “both the data and stack of video evidence makes it fairly clear that this is a growing problem in need of solutions. If she is not concerned with organized theft and increasingly violent attacks on retail employees, she should just say that.”
The National Retail Federation constantly finds that organized retail crime is a problem that continues to grow.
The criticism of AOC comes exclusively from Republicans and retailers. Rep. Jim Banks, an Indiana Republican, called New York Democrats’ comments “tone deaf and insulting” to the family of the Oakland security guard who was shot dead in San Francisco last week. He was protecting a TV news crew covering the theft in the area.
Ms. Ocasio-Cortez’s office did not respond to a request to clarify her comments.
An uptick in smash-and-grab robberies across the U.S. has jolted businesses, prompting owners and leaders to take precautions to protect brick-and-mortar shops amid a busy holiday shopping season.
Stores and malls in San Francisco, Los Angeles, Chicago and other metropolitan areas have been the targets of flash mob robberies, break-ins and vandalism.
Experts who spoke with The Hill said that the increase in online shopping amid the pandemic has contributed to the increase in these kinds of crimes.
Police retrieved thousands of dollars' worth of merchandise after Burberry, Bloomingdale’s, and other high-end stories in San Francisco were robbed.