Organized shoplifting is a $100-billion problem. Here’s why we’re all screwed

Corporate America is finally waking up to the fact that woke policies on crime are costing them billions. 

Organized shoplifting efforts and flash mobs of robberies across the country caused businesses $100 billion in losses in 2021 and have only gotten worse since then according to the National Retail Federation. As former Home Depot CEO Bob Nardelli recently put it, Biden’s America has become a “lawless society.” 

And a lawless society is bad for business. Big companies, from Whole Foods, Walmart and Walgreens to Nordstrom, Dick’s Sporting Goods, Lululemon and more have all suffered. Mom-and-pop businesses have suffered too. 


While all businesses factor in some amount of loss from theft, euphemistically called “shrink” in the industry, this recent phenomenon reaches a whole new level. As a result, companies have closed stores, revised earnings estimates, and taken hits to their top and bottom lines, resulting in loss of shareholder value and harm to the communities they serve. 

But why is this happening now? The answer is simple: George-Soros-backed rogue prosecutors. In big cities across the country, these so-called public servants refuse to prosecute petty thieves and even go so far as to call their illegal behavior “quality of life” crimes which, according to them, don’t harm anyone. 

That’s a lie. 

Not only do these crimes hurt businesses, large and small, they also harm the people who work in those businesses and the city residents who shop at those businesses. When businesses shutter because of the unacceptable risks and loss caused by repeated thefts, the local residents who used to shop in those stores can no longer do so and have to travel longer distances (and pay higher prices) as a result. Worse still, the people who used to work in those stores have to find new jobs or go on unemployment. 

Plus, employees and customers face danger from these offenders too. Blake Mohs, a 26-year-old security official at Home Depot employee in Pleasonton, California, was shot and killed by a would-be-thief. Gary Rasor, an 83-year-old worker at a Home Depot in Hillsborough, North Carolina, died after being pushed to the ground by a shoplifter.

Yowhannes “John” Tewelde, a 60-year-old, longtime cashier at a San Francisco convenience store, “died after an alleged baseball bat attack at the hands of a shoplifter who made off with a bottle of water and two beers,” according to SFist. The list could go on. 

Until recently, CEOs have been reluctant to even admit that rampant theft in their stores has been a problem because they don’t want to appear political and place the blame where it belongs — with rogue prosecutors and others who call for defunding the police.

But when their store employees are assaulted repeatedly by mobs that empty the shelves, eventually they have to speak out. 

In earnings-call-after-earnings call this year, CEOs and other executives have started to tell the real impact of these pro-criminal policies and how they are impacting their gross revenues and net income. 

Home Depot’s second quarter gross margin was 33%, “a decrease of 8 basis points from the second quarter last year, primarily driven by pressure from shrink,” said CFO Richard McPhail. 


Target CEO Brian Cornell said they are up against “an unacceptable amount of retail theft and organized retail crime,” noting that shrink in the second quarter was “well above the sustainable level where we expect to operate over time.” How bad is it? This year Target is expected to lose $500 million more to theft than last year’s astonishing loss total of $800 million. 

Earlier this month, a Walgreens spokesman told Newsweek that “retail crime is one of the top challenges facing our industry today.” 

There is a common-sense and simple solution to this recent phenomenon. Prosecute every person who steals, even if it’s a misdemeanor. 

Why? Because not doing so contributes to a lawless society, and criminals must be held accountable. 

It’s time for local district attorneys in Los Angeles, Chicago, San Francisco, New York City and elsewhere to do their jobs. Businesses large and small, their employees, customers, shareholders and investors deserve no less. 

Zack Smith is a legal fellow at The Heritage Foundation, a former prosecutor and co-author of “Rogue Prosecutors: How Radical Soros Lawyers Are Destroying America’s Communities.”

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