A man was caught on camera stealing items from a Walgreens retail chain store in San Francisco while the security personnel at the store looked on and let him go. The video shows a man a with his face covered picking up items in a trash bag and fleeing on his cycle. The incident has gone viral on social media, and triggered a debate on misuse of a law that has given rise to such incidents in the northern California city.
San Francisco has decriminalised petty theft. Cops can't stop or prosecute anyone who steals anything worth less than $900. So people have been picking things up at stores and walking (or cycling) out. First world. pic.twitter.com/nPJtGVPCKYAjit Datta (@ajitdatta) June 15, 2021
Security officials say the theft incidents have risen manifold in recent years, especially after 2014 when the city passed a controversial law called Proposition 47.
Under Proposition 47, stealing goods worth less than $950 does not count as felony but misdemeanor. Cops say it has become a common sight in San Francisco, as the new law has emboldened criminals rather than making it safe for the general public. As per cops, in case anyone steals items worth less than $950, cops have no option but to hand over citations and the accused walks away. If the accused does not show up in court, maybe he'll get a bench warrant.
Rising theft cases have also led to stores shutting down in large numbers. "Seventeen Walgreens over the last five years, almost every Gap retailer outlet is gone, CVS is under assault," city Supervisor Ahsha Safai said, ABC News reported. Walgreens officials have also claimed that shoplifting incidents in their San Francisco stores have seen four times more theft cases than stores in other cities.
Safai said in many incidents, it has been seen via surveillance cameras that thieves hit multiple locations in a day. The stores in the city are also spending 35 times more on security than elsewhere in the US. Not only store crimes but property crimes are also highest in San Francisco. The situation has reached a point where well-organised groups are now running shoplifting rings.
As cases continue to rise, the city police have blamed prosecutors while district attorney Chesa Boudin said it's the cops who need to do more, The New York Post reported.
Statistics also show the lenient laws have an overall impact on the number of arrests since Proposition 47 was passed. The number of larceny cases that are cleared for arrest dipped from 4.5 per cent in 2018 to 2.8 per cent in 2020. The New York Police, however, made four times more arrests in larceny cases. In 2018, the number of larceny cases stood at 18,363 in San Francisco, while the number reduced to 11,062 in 2020.
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