This commentary is by Carrie Sheffield, a senior policy analyst at Independent Women’s Voice.
Violent crime and shoplifting spikes across urban America are forcing businesses to shutter, one reason why conservative “red states” recovered faster from COVID-related shutdowns faster than blue states.
Brazen shoplifters walk free thanks to weak prosecutors — bankrolled by Democratic donors — creating a depressing urban blight that destroys neighborhoods and harms customers who are disproportionately racial minorities. It also makes inflation worse by further restricting supply chains.
As of June 2022, the Council on Criminal Justice reports the homicide rate is 39% higher in 29 American cities than during the first half of 2019, before the COVID-19 pandemic. The Council also reported increases in aggravated assaults (+4%) and robberies (+19%), residential burglaries (+6%), nonresidential burglaries (+8%), larcenies (+20%) and motor vehicle thefts (+15%) all increased in the first half of 2022 compared to the first half of 2021.
If a criminal enters a store and steals below that state’s federal theft threshold, it’s highly unlikely that law enforcement will go after them. The result: small-business owners bleed thousands of dollars each month and don’t submit insurance claims because they worry they’ll be canceled.
“They’re taking matters into their own hands, charging a 1% crime spike fee on all transactions, stepping up security and, as a last resort, shutting down completely,” CNBC reported.
Some retailers also cite competition with Amazon as part of their brick-and-mortar decline. Indeed, why would a shopper risk getting caught up in an armed robbery when she can comfortably buy shoes or select her new dorm furnishings from the comfort of her home?
What’s particularly sad about businesses in these violent-crime ridden areas, left behind by lip-service liberals, is that many are owned by vulnerable black and Latino Americans — the very groups that the Left claims to serve. Bullets and riots disproportionately harm minority businesses, yet it’s the Left that wants to defund the police who protect black and Latino entrepreneurs.
“Crime begets crime begets crime, and changes to enforcement and prosecution policies are entirely to blame,” The Federalist’s Christopher Bedford noted last year. “In nearby Oakland, where murder is up 90 percent in the past year and car-jackings up 88 percent while the city council continues to cut police, city leaders dismiss the surge in crime as ‘a bump in the road,’ but for the people who live there, strive to work there, and try to not be murdered there, it’s more than that.”
Reportedly, multiple Target stores in San Francisco slashed open hours in hopes of curtailing thieves. Bedford noted last year that Walgreens closed 17 stores in the last five years in direct response to criminal activity and that a viral video showed a hooded, masked man plowing his bike into a San Francisco Walgreens, stuffing a trash bag with stolen contraband, and riding away, past the impotent security guard.
A University of Southern California study showed that following temporary business closures, “The area immediately around a closed restaurant experienced an increase in property crime and theft from vehicles.”
The authors also note in their Harvard Business Review summary of their research that, “this increase in crime disappeared as soon as the restaurant reopened.”
It’s not rocket science. More crime breeds business shutdowns that hurt consumers and businesses. Our urban areas deserve better.