Sarah George: Let taxpayers reimburse shoplifting losses

By Guy Page

Taxpayers should reimburse businesses for retail theft losses if shoplifters can’t afford to pay, Chittenden County State’s Attorney incumbent Sarah George suggested during a recent candidate debate.

George, the George-Soros backed county prosecutor since 2017, faces a primary challenge from lawyer Ted Kenney of Williston.

Department of State’s Attorneys and Sheriffs/Public Domain

Chittenden County State’s Attorney Sarah George

At about the 18-minute mark of the July 6 candidate forum sponsored by the Lake Champlain Chamber, the Burlington Business Association, the South Burlington Business Association, and the Vermont Retail and Grocers Association, moderator Stewart Ledbetter of News 5 cited claims of $90 million of losses in Vermont retail theft last year and then asked: “Do you support retailers getting restitution?”

George said court orders requiring thieves to pay restitution simply don’t work.

“The folks committing the crime have no ability to make restitution. It may ultimately come out of taxes, or something. Other jurisdictions have imposed or created units that will give money back without relying on the person charged. I’m not sure how that would work here, but I think something like that should be helpful … the businesses should be made whole.”

Kenney agreed legislation is needed to create a state program offering restitution, but stopped short of specifically recommending taxpayers funding restitution.

“There needs to be a restitution order in place,” Kenney said. “Unfortunately, a lot of these people don’t have the resources to pay that order. I agree there needs to be a statutory change, and perhaps some sort of program that the state should run.”

Neither George nor Kenney offered further details. A quick online search revealed no published reports about government programs reimbursing retail theft/shoplifting losses.

Gov. Phil Scott seemed nonplussed at the suggestion that taxpayers should pick up the tab. At his press conference last week, Vermont Daily Chronicle asked: In a recent candidate forum for Chittenden County State’s Attorney, both candidates seemed open to reimbursing retailers for retail tax losses from sources other than the shoplifters, most of whom are indigent drug users. What do you think of the idea of using any state or local government money to make good shoplifting losses?

“It sounds a bit like a slippery slope,” Scott said. “I’ve never contemplated that. Where do you stop? Is it the obligation of the state to provide for, let’s say, someone stealing catalytic converters at some dealership, which I just saw on the news this morning? Would that be the responsibility of the state to reimburse that dealership? Where does it stop, is my point.

“I have a great deal of sympathy for retail theft in particular. It doesn’t seem as though we’re prosecuting many of those, and it may be just because of prioritization,” Scott said. “Is the answer the state or the municipality getting involved in reimbursement? I just haven’t ever contemplated that.”

Retail theft is conducted both on an individual basis, and also by highly organized criminal operations. Nationwide, retail theft is a $69 billion illegal industry. A January 2022 IRS news report describes one such southeastern U.S. ring:

A ring of “boosters” netted $4.5 million from the sale of stolen merchandise and over-the-counter products to fencing organizations outside of Oklahoma. “Fences” then sold the stolen products through e-commerce sites, like eBay and Amazon.

Normally, fences paid the booster chief half the market value for each item, who, in turn, paid boosters half of her expected profit for each item they brought to her. Financial payments for stolen products were normally made through PayPal, Venmo, and Cash App, and some payments were made with drugs.

The booster chief provided her boosters with a detailed list of items to steal and the pricing she would pay for each. She further instructed her ring on boosting techniques, including box stuffing. Box stuffing occurs when criminals conceal higher-value items inside lower-value item boxes and only paying for the lower-valued items.

Been and her team of boosters allegedly stole products from retailers in Oklahoma, Kansas, Texas, Missouri, Arkansas, and Colorado. Been would pay boosters’ expenses when they traveled outside the state. She would further pay boosters’ bond when arrested so they could continue boosting.

Guy Page is publisher of the Vermont Daily Chronicle. Reprinted with permission.

Images courtesy of Wikimedia Commons/Michelle Maria and Department of State’s Attorneys and Sheriffs/Public Domain

12 thoughts on “Sarah George: Let taxpayers reimburse shoplifting losses

  1. We as Vermont taxpayers and residents already pay a heavy price, both in dollars and in the carnage that these socialist pipe dreams cause to society. Ms. george’s actions affect much more than just Chittenden Cty.
    Since 1982 socialism/marxism has been brought into Vermont with vigor- and now 40 years later we are hopefully fed up with the results and ready to return to sensible politics and society norms.
    It’s paramount that people like george be voted out of their office.

    • I agree with your assessment. Let’s get to the “ROOT CAUSE” of socialism/marxism in Vermont over the last 40+ years and rid ourselves of Bernie and whoever he endorses and supports. He has brought this plague to Vermont along with his insidious infiltration of Democrats who have enabled him and his ilk.

  2. We need to revive debtors work prison for folks to pay back shop owners, plus fine, plus room and board.

    Shop owners would a big sign in the window and a private armed guard would patrol the street

  3. How about going back to prison farms for the criminals that don’t want to work for a living instead of
    just letting them steal? A little sweat equity might just change the criminal mind that easier jobs are
    out there to earn money at rather then stealing from others. There also should be no amount that has
    to be stolen before their charged, theft is theft no matter the amount. We don’t need police reform we need criminal reform…

  4. Sarah George: Let taxpayers reimburse shoplifting losses, I wonder what she’s smoking !!

    Hey Sarah, how about just doing your job, Nah sounds like you’re bought and paid for so it
    really doesn’t matter, does it ………. Where do we get these clowns?

    I hear her whine about the workload, “if you can’t stand the heat get out of the kitchen ”
    liberals are all the same…………………Don’t forget she wants to burn up your money for
    her inept ability

  5. Sooo…Chittenden County State’s Attorney S George wants us to reimburse shoplifting losses..I have a better idea, let’s make the State Attorney, Judges, media, and all the liberal democrats reimburse the stores..They are the rich elites’ dumb a$$es..They are the ones who make these insane laws. When you do the crime you do the time. You steal you pay for the things you stole. When a store is robbed the honest customer ends up paying for it as the owner has to up his cover the loss.
    DUMB IDEA GEORGE…Matter a fact a good way to lose votes Just o your job and put criminals in jail/prison

  6. I’d bet that an experienced shop owner/retail can tell with 80% accuracy the people that are coming into the store to shoplift/steal. But if the owner monitors that person, maybe follows around…WHO get’s in trouble? The thief? Or the store owner? You know the answer. Because if the store owner lifts a finger to prevent theft from him, the outraged media & press will blast it everywhere – and soon enough.. boycotts, threats, demonstrations and possible window smashing…will come. But the owner is innocent of any crime?

    Continue like this, Ms. George, there will not be many smaller retail places left in VT. Store owners are getting crushed by Amazon (cheap prices, free delivery, wide selection), store RENTS skyrocket because Commercial Property taxes in VT are even BIGGER than residential taxes…Stores can’t find employee’s..and when they can, the increased cost to hire them hurts your bottom line. Their Utilities (heat & elec) for store skyockets because of forced-down-your-throat-envirio-activism: To “save the planet”. Then VT taxes, Fed taxes, etc…There is NOTHING left… It really makes NO logical sense to be a small to medium size retail store in VT. Why bother. The legal risks, massive stealing with no recompence, the tiny profits, high taxes, few employees anywhere to hire, AMAZON kills you…..the huge expenses, and a VT State blessed..”Steal-At-Will-From-Me”….with no punishment? Time to just close up shop – for good. Maybe it’s time to “close up VT” .. just leave for saner places.

  7. If someone steals something, cut off their hand, like they do in Singapore, the safest place on the planet. Watch crime come to an end; no one pays restitution, people walk safely at all hours of the day and night, doors left unlocked, shopkeepers can focus on their shops and community…a general sense of peace. Until real punishment is imposed this problem will increase. I don’t see either of these candidates making things any better for the general public. They work hard for criminals but not us who pay their salaries. Ted is untested buy S George makes me actually sick.

    • Some Mid-East countries will also take body parts in lieu of restitution. A lot of the theft is due to drug addiction. A lot of addicts become repeat offenders due to lax prosecution and nowadays revival by Narcan. Get rid of the loony prosecutors and put a limit on Narcan revivals. The body part harvest can start if that other stuff doesn’t work…

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