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The “Supermarket Sweep”

Addiction and decriminalization fuel a West Coast shoplifting boom. Originally published at City Journal

When I was a kid, a television show called Supermarket Sweep featured teams of middle Americans bolting through grocery store aisles and filling their carts with food, household products, and pet supplies. The show’s premise was that, for two minutes, the rule of law—in this case, the law against shoplifting—would be suspended. The team with the largest haul could take home their bounty of groceries, win prizes, and compete for the championship.

Today, in some West Coast cities, the Supermarket Sweep isn’t a game show—it’s a dark reality, fueled by addiction, crime, and bad public policy. From Seattle to Los Angeles, a “shoplifting boom” is hitting major retailers, which deal with thousands of thefts, drug overdoses, and assaults each year. Since 2010, thefts increased by 22 percent in Portland, 50 percent in San Francisco, and 61 percent in Los Angeles. In total, California, Oregon, and Washington reported 864,326 thefts to the FBI last year. The real figure is likely much higher, as many retailers have stopped reporting most shoplifting incidents to police.

Continue Reading at City Journal

Christopher Rufo

Former Director, Center on Wealth & Poverty
Christopher Rufo is former director of the Discovery Institute’s Center on Wealth & Poverty. He has directed four documentaries for PBS, Netflix, and international television, including his latest film, America Lost, that tells the story of three "forgotten American cities.” Christopher is currently a contributing editor of City Journal, where he covers poverty, homelessness, addiction, crime, and other afflictions. Christopher is a magna cum laude graduate of Georgetown University, Claremont Institute Lincoln Fellow, and has appeared on NPR, CNN, ABC, CBS, HLN, and FOX News.