". . . and having done all . . . stand firm." Eph. 6:13


Brazen Crime Wave Hits Blue Cities amid Decriminalization Efforts

August 16, 2023

In an astonishingly brazen heist that occurred in Woodland Hills, Calif. on August 12 in broad daylight, approximately 50 individuals mobbed a Nordstrom store, stealing about $300,000 worth of merchandise and destroying display cases in the process. Experts say “smash and grab” or “flash rob” crimes like these as well as grocery shoplifting have been steadily rising in Democrat-controlled states and cities across the country due to policies that reduced the penalties for committing crimes.

The Nordstrom robbery is merely the latest in a string of incidents in California in recent weeks. An almost identical heist occurred on August 8 in broad daylight at a Yves Saint Laurent store in Glendale, in which about 30 thieves also stole $300,000 worth of luxury goods. The previous week, nine men raided a Gucci store in Century City.

It’s not just high-end merchandise that is being routinely pilfered from stores with little consequences. In Washington, D.C., a popular Giant Food store may be close to shuttering due to $500,000 worth of products being stolen as of late. Despite upgraded security measures and a record amount of stopped suspects, thieves continue to steal “everything,” according to Giant president Ira Kress, who noted that shoplifting at the grocery chain’s stores have “probably increased five to 10 times in the last three years.”

The growing thievery is part of an alarming trend in the nation’s capital, in which homicides have risen 25% since August of last year. Councilmember Trayon White (D) has called on Mayor Muriel Bowser (D) to enlist the National Guard in order to reduce crime.

Lawlessness has become so entrenched in places like San Francisco that officials recently advised staff at the downtown federal building to start working from home. The skyscraper has offices for Health and Human Services (HHS) and the Departments of Labor and Transportation, as well as staffers of former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.). Yet due to open-air drug use and transactions, homeless individuals using the streets to relieve themselves, rising gun and knife assaults, and unruly youth fighting and committing crimes in nearby shopping malls, HHS officials advised workers to “maximize the use of telework for the foreseeable future.” Popular chains like Walgreens have resorted to locking freezers with chains as shoplifting has risen 20% over the last three years.

Experts are pointing to policies implemented in Democratic strongholds as a primary culprit in rising lawlessness. As noted by National Review’s Charles Cooke, California’s steadily climbing crime rate is arguably rooted in measures like Proposition 47, which turned nonviolent property crimes that did not exceed $950 from felonies to misdemeanors:

“And, would you believe it, the result has been a massive increase in nonviolent property crimes whose damages do not exceed $950! Couple Proposition 47 with the rise of prosecutors who do not prosecute — a national problem that is particularly acute in California — and you get that most inexplicable of outcomes: a diminishment in public order that was consciously approved by the state’s voters.”

Meanwhile in Oregon, voters enacted Measure 110 in November 2020, which decriminalized the possession of highly addictive drugs like heroin and methamphetamine. The purported goal of the measure was to establish a “humane” approach to drug addiction by providing “access to recovery services, peer support and stable housing.” However, Oregon ranks near the bottom in states with access to drug treatment facilities, and Measure 110 contained no language to establish more treatment facilities before allowing drug decriminalization.

The result has been a record number of drug overdoses in Portland in 2022, which was topped in the first eight months of 2023. In addition, shootings in the city have tripled, vehicle thefts have doubled, property crimes and burglaries have risen, and homelessness has jumped 50%, all since the measure was enacted. The once flourishing downtown has been transformed “with scenes of drugged-out people passed out in doorways or roaming downtown like zombies, babbling to themselves, and pushing around carts filled with junk.” As restaurant owners struggle to stay in business due to continual break-ins and vandalism, the flagship stores of REI and Nike, along with the last two Walmarts in Portland, have all closed.

Ken Blackwell, former mayor of Cincinnati and undersecretary at the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, was unsurprised by skyrocketing crime rates in Democrat-controlled cities.

“If you reward bad behavior, don’t be surprised if you get more bad behavior,” he told The Washington Stand. “So the lax attitude that these big city mayors, particularly in these blue cities, have towards punishing bad behavior, it shouldn’t surprise anyone that they’re going to get more of it. … The criminals will push the envelope until they meet resistance.”

Blackwell, who currently serves as senior fellow for Human Rights and Constitutional Governance at Family Research Council, went on to note that “as a mayor [who worked] with Rudy Giuliani when he was mayor of New York City, we worked on the theory of the broken window. If people see one broken window unattended to, then two, then three, then four, the disrespect for law and order will grow like wildfire. … It’s pretty straightforward in terms of human behavior.”

“It starts with this assault on innocent life, when people of all ages have disrespect for innocent life, that’s going to have consequences, whether it is a rash of violent crimes where life is disrespected, or whether it’s an assault on the notion of private property,” he concluded. “You have that in combination with victimhood when people are told over and over and over that they are victims, they feel that they can do anything without retribution.”

Dan Hart is senior editor at The Washington Stand.