Shoplifting threatens closure of only grocery store in area of 85,000 people

Shoplifting threatens closure of only grocery store in area of 85,000 people
Shoplifting in progress (Image: Twitter screen grab)

Rampant shoplifting at the only grocery store in a mostly-black ward of Washington, DC, with 85,000 people is making the store “lose hundreds of thousands of dollars per month,” reports the Washington Post. The shoplifting has increased even though Giant Food has “spent hundreds of thousands on security upgrades.” As a result, if nothing changes, it may close, leaving a large number of people without any grocery store nearby.

As the Washington Examiner’s Byron York notes, “There are only 4 grocery stores east of Anacostia in Washington DC.” That’s DC’s lowest-income and most heavily-black region. “Now one might close because of shoplifting. Giant loses $500k–20% of sales–to thieves monthly. Spends $300k more on security. Trying to reduce shoplifting by closing early.”

ABC News 7 reports:

Concerns are growing in Washington, D.C. about some major grocery stores being able to keep their doors open due to shoplifting.

During a news conference Friday, D.C. Councilman Trayon White said he spoke to the regional management of a popular Giant Food store on Alabama Avenue Southeast.

“We had the opportunity to meet with some of the leadership of this Giant,” White said. “Some of the regional leadership at this Giant, what we heard was disheartening. We learned that this Giant has lost over $500,000 in product loss, which is about 20% of the sales. We know it’s tough times and we know the price of food has skyrocketed in the last three years. But we cannot afford to hurt ourselves by constantly taking it from the store. It means that everybody is going to be without a place to eat. And enough is enough.”

On Friday, White spoke out about the high rate of shoplifting at the Giant Food grocery store on Alabama Avenue Southeast.

“To date, this Giant has had at least 135 stops from people stealing from the store,” he said. “And they almost double that amount that didn’t get stopped.”

It’s one of only four major grocery store locations east of the Anacostia River. And if this store closes its doors, White warned the impacts would be devastating and create a food desert for some D.C. residents.

Meanwhile, Giant Food has hired security.

“We also learn that Giant’s leadership has spent over $300,000 in security,” said White. “But that did not derail the people from stealing. In fact, the regional manager told us that people will have stuff in their carts walking straight through the door — straight through the door! With grocery carts full. We have to build bridges for people. But taking from this store is taking from yourself. We are home to seniors and elders who have to eat at this store.”

White said the Giant Food store may not survive losing 20% of its revenue every month due to shoplifting. The grocery store is one of only four major grocery store locations east of the Anacostia River. It’s busy. People rely on it. But White warns ongoing shoplifting may force the grocery store to close.

One area Safeway in Ward 8 is also busy and reducing hours and staff, according to D.C. resident Francine Brown. But that’s not the only problem she is experiencing while shopping at her local Safeway in Ward 8.

“The shelves are bare,” she said. “There’s nothing there. We live in this community and we want the best as well as anyone else.”

On July 5, 7News showed you how Giant Food stores in Virginia have reduced store hours, reduced the number of items people can purchase at self-checkout, and other security upgrades they’ve taken due to a rise in shoplifting in Fairfax County and the City of Alexandria.

Shoplifters are less likely to be prosecuted in D.C. Superior Court than they used to be. “Federal prosecutors in the Washington, D.C., U.S. attorney’s office declined to prosecute 67% of those arrested by the police in cases that would have been tried in the D.C. Superior Court in 2022, according to The Washington Post….As recently as 2015, the prosecutor’s office was only rejecting 35% of arrests that would have been tried in the Superior Court.” The U.S. Attorney’s Office is headed by Matthew Graves, who was appointed by Joe Biden.

In much of America, shoplifting is out of control, reports the center-left news source Axios, reaching “crisis proportions.” “We have experienced a 300% increase in retail theft from our stores since the pandemic began.” CVS spokesman Michael DeAngelis said last year.

The Giant Food losses in Washington, DC are bigger than losses from shoplifting that closed stores in places like Manhattan. A Manhattan Rite Aid closed in 2022 after experiencing $100,000 per month in losses due to theft. “They come in every day, sometimes twice a day, with laundry bags and just load up on stuff,” a store employee said.

Axios says the “problem is made worse by flash mobs like the 80 people who stormed a Nordstrom in San Francisco in November, and organized retail crime groups that often hire homeless people and drug addicts as “boosters” to do the dirty work. Store shelves aren’t the only places getting hit: Warehouses and cargo trucks are also in the crosshairs. Teams of “boosters” will throng a store with laundry bags, grabbing what they can and assaulting workers who confront them — sometimes fatally. One Bay Area crime ring stole $8 million in merchandise from CVS, Walgreens and Target stores. Another one ripped off a staggering $50 million in goods — mostly health and beauty products that thieves stockpiled in a warehouse. “More than $1.6 million in razor blades alone were recovered.”

More stringent punishment for shoplifters would help reduce shoplifting. Punishments have gotten more lenient in Washington, DC, in recent years, as DC’s progressive city council and legal community have become infatuated with “criminal justice reform.” Peer-reviewed studies show that longer incarceration reduces the crime rate. One such study is “The Incapacitation Effect of Incarceration: Evidence from Several Italian Collective Pardons,” which found that reducing incarceration increased the crime rate. This article was published in the American Economic Review, which is a peer-reviewed journal.

Crime in California fell significantly after California voters adopted Proposition 8, which mandated longer sentences for repeat offenders who kill, rape, and rob others. A study found those longer sentences deterred many crimes from being committed. Similarly, a 2008 Santa Clara University study found that longer sentences for three-time offenders led to “significantly faster rates of decline in robbery, burglary, larceny, and motor vehicle theft.”

On Twitter, some left-wingers mistakenly defend shoplifters as just poor people feeding their families. But this is untrue. As Matthew Yglesias, a former staffer of the progressive Center for American Progress, observes, “the shoplifting surge is not people feeding their starving families; packaged goods are getting stolen in bulk and resold on Facebook Marketplace and elsewhere.”

Moreover, there is very little malnutrition in Washington, DC. The food stamps that poor people get covers more than the cost of food, as long as you cook for yourself and use inexpensive, healthy, nutritious foods.

LU Staff

LU Staff

Promoting and defending liberty, as defined by the nation’s founders, requires both facts and philosophical thought, transcending all elements of our culture, from partisan politics to social issues, the workings of government, and entertainment and off-duty interests. Liberty Unyielding is committed to bringing together voices that will fuel the flame of liberty, with a dialogue that is lively and informative.


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