Cities across California are reporting an uptick in shoplifting crimes.
Two men in a Los Angeles suburb were seen on camera brazenly leaving a TJ Maxx store with their arms full of shoplifted items.
“They didn’t even run out, they walked out,” Los Angeles Police Department Sgt. Jerretta Sandoz told CBS LA of the incident. “And so, that’s sending a message that we, the criminals, are winning.”
The video was recently filmed at a TJ Maxx in Granada Hills and shows two men leaving the store with their arms packed with clothing and other items, with one of the men carrying a large duffle bag that appears to be full of items.
“That looks great,” one man comments in the video as the men walk by.
The LAPD is investigating the incident, but neither of the men have been charged or arrested.
“The employees at TJ Maxx have been told that, in these specific circumstances, it’s not worth it for you to go and physically attack, physically stop people that are walking out with this inventory,” criminal defense attorney Alexandra Kazarian said of why many employees don’t confront shoplifters. “Because these businesses have insurance.”
“People who are stealing giant, giant tote bags, giant backpacks worth of inventory are not getting the same benefit of the people that are stealing food and clothing for their children,” she said.
Sandoz, who serves as vice president of the Los Angeles Police Protective League, said she blames the incident on Prop 47, a 2014 referendum that lowered criminal sentences on crimes such as shoplifting.
“If they’re caught, they’re probably given the equivalent of a traffic ticket,” she told CBS LA. “So it’s not taken seriously.”
“If you let these criminals think that they can go in and steal merchandise and steal things, what happens when someone tries to stop them,” Sandoz added.
Shoplifting isn’t unique to Los Angeles, as other cities in the state are reporting an increase.
Business owners and security officials in San Francisco, for example, are decrying the “lawlessness” in the city over shoplifting. And several major companies, such as Walgreens, have closed dozens of stores in view of massive shoplifting, ascribed to the much relaxed and reduced punishments for shoplifting.
“This is really bad. I’ve been in the Bay area 20 years, I’ve never seen this,” a local security guard, J.C. Hernandez, told Fox News.
“It’s just lawlessness,” he added. “People are just openly coming in and stealing stuff.”
San Francisco Police Department spokesman Robert Rueca added that shoplifters aren’t stealing “one or two items that someone might need to get by.”
“Our investigations have shown that there are organized fences where people are selling these products that they steal,” he said.