Local and national politicians have had enough of rampant shoplifting, or perhaps they simply realize that the general public has had enough.

In Philadelphia, Cherelle L. Parker, the city’s new mayor, appears to be targeting shoplifting, as well as other crimes, by signing an executive order to restore lawfulness in the city. 

Parker’s executive order declared a citywide public safety emergency and directed the police department to develop “comprehensive plans” that addressed crime across the city. The executive order directs her new police commissioner, Kevin Bethel, to coordinate with the Managing Director’s office and other city departments to develop a plan to hire more police officers, reduce violent crime, as well as reduce quality-of-life crimes, and permanently shut down pervasive open-air drug markets, such as the notorious one in Kensington.

Mayor Parker offered an open letter to Philadelphians on January 4th that read, “In our first 100 days, my administration will announce specific plans to increase the number of Philadelphia police officers on our streets — with a focus on community policing citywide. 

“We will declare a Public Safety Emergency and expeditiously get every available resource into neighborhoods struggling with the scourges of crime, gun violence, drugs, and addiction. Our Police Commissioner will deliver plans for those crises and for crimes — like car theft, shoplifting, and illegal ATV use — that diminish the quality of life in our city.” 

The mayor has also stated that she will reinstate “stop and frisk,” and stated that she was open to the idea of bringing in the National Guard to clean up open-air drug markets.

“If somebody tells you, ‘We think she lacks compassion because she wants to be too aggressive in cleaning up the open-air drug market,’ you tell them to think about whether or not they would want their mother, father, sister, brother, loved one on the streets openly using intravenous drugs,” Parker said,

Parker spoke out against car theft, shoplifting, retail theft and the illegal use of ATVs, which she noted diminishes the quality of life for the city’s citizens.

“We’re going to make our city safe for the people who live here, who work here and who come into our city from the suburbs and from the country and across the world.”

But, one has to ask, will Philadelphia District Attorney “Let ‘Em Loose Larry” Krasner properly prosecute the crooks that the cops collar? 

In Harrisburg, a bill to crack down on looters and thieves was approved with strong bipartisan support in the Commonwealth’s House of Representatives and Senate and was signed by the governor on December 14, 2023.

State Senator Dave Argall (R-29) introduced the bill after reading the reports of widespread looting in Philadelphia and other cities.

“Small business owners are under siege,” said Argall. “As rising theft continues to grip communities across Pennsylvania, we need to act now.”

According to Senator Argall, the United States Chamber of Commerce reported that organized retail theft has resulted in the loss of almost 700,000 jobs nationwide due to over $125 billion in economic losses.

The legislation, Senate Bill 596, creates a first-degree felony offense, which can result in up to 20 years in prison, for thieves who steal $50,000 worth of goods and intend to resell them. The bill would also create the Office of Deputy Attorney General for Organized Retail Crime Theft to pursue the leaders of these criminal rings.

“Retail theft has become a plague on employers large and small in recent years,” Argall continued. “We must take harsh action to deter these criminals and protect family-sustaining jobs in Pennsylvania.”

New York Governor Kathy Hochul, a left-of-center Democrat, has also declared war against shoplifting, stating that retail thievery in New York has spiraled out of control, with many products being placed under lock and key in many stores. 

Hochul unveiled a plan to tackle the shoplifting problem, which includes boosting penalties for offenders who assault retail workers.

“I say, ‘No More!’ The chaos must stop!” Hochel said during her 2024 State of the State address delivered in Albany, New York.

The plan will create a new category of crime to prosecute those who sell stolen goods online and set up a new “smash and grab unit” in the New York State Police Department to prosecute theft rings. Hochul also stated she would provide funding to state-wide district attorneys to prosecute property crime and retail theft.

“Across our nation and state retail theft has surged, creating fear among the customers and workers. Thieves brazenly tear items off the shelves and menace employees,” Hochul said. “Owners go broke replacing broken windows and stolen goods, driving many out of business. These attacks are a breakdown of the social order.”

Republican presidential candidate Florida Governor Ron DeSantis signed a bill last year that created second-degree and third-degree felony crimes for people who commit repeated thefts within a short period. 

Not to be outdone, former President Donald Trump stated last October, with his usual hyperbole, that shoplifters should be shot on the spot.

“We will immediately stop all of the pillaging and theft. Very simply: If you rob a store, you can fully expect to be shot as you are leaving that store,” the former president said in a speech to California Republicans.

Paul Davis, a Philadelphia writer and frequent contributor to Broad + Liberty, also contributes to Counterterrorism magazine and writes the “On Crime” column for the Washington Times. He can be reached at pauldavisoncrime.com

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