What’s the old saying? If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
Apply that saying to prices you might find for some items sold online: If the price seems fishy, it probably is.
That’s because those great deals may actually be stolen goods. As the nation continues its slide toward barbarism, some policies of oh-so-compassionate liberals are creating new forms of criminal activities.
Trace it back to California’s Proposition 47 of 2014, which reclassified felony theft offenses as misdemeanors for items valued at under $950. Such liberalization of shoplifting laws is prompting people to just walk into stores and boldly start carrying things out.
One police chief in a major California city had called Prop 47 a “virtual get-out-of-jail-free card,” according to a 2015 article in The Washington Post.
What’s more, what would appear to be run-of-the-mill shoplifters are bending softening theft laws into major capitalistic enterprises.
As a result, companies like CVS say they’re losing up to $39,000 per day on thefts, according to The Wall Street Journal.
Why, if you can wheel them out of the store, maybe you could go to a California Home Depot and find some refrigerators for under $950. What a country!
But Home Depot would not be amused.
In fact, Home Depot and other retailers say thieves are increasingly organized and stolen goods are finding their way to being sold online, according to the Journal.
One group is believed to have stolen $50 million over five years from Northern California CVS stores and the pandemic-driven growth in e-commerce has developed a great cyber-fence for thieves.
“We’re trying to control it the best we can, but it’s growing every day,” Ben Dugan, chief investigator for CVS, told the Journal.
The Coalition of Law Enforcement and Retail has estimated organized crime efforts against retailers have increased from $30 billion in annual losses a decade ago to some $45 billion in losses today. Home Depot investigated more than 400 such cases last year.
One of the big stumbling blocks to controlling organized retail theft is Amazon, according to the Journal.
Publish the wrong kind of book or put out the wrong kind of ad campaign or film and Amazon will censor it. But if stolen goods are being moved on Amazon and you’re a retailer trying to stop it, you’d better have a subpoena or other legal tool.
With the assistance of law enforcement, Dugan and his team will likely close “73 e-commerce cases this year involving $104 million of goods stolen from multiple retailers and sold on Amazon.” In 2020, they had 27 cases.
Amazon wraps itself in the flag of being a common carrier when there are goods to be sold, but takes on the role of a publisher/censor when ideas are at stake. What’s wrong with this picture?
Amazon is “super hard to deal with,” Sgt. Ian Ranshaw of the Thornton, Colorado, police department told the Journal, as it “may be the largest unregulated pawnshop on the face of the planet.”
Amazon counters it spent $700 million last year to stop fraud in its services, that it won’t tolerate the sale of stolen goods, it closes accounts when necessary, and it works with retailers and authorities to halt criminal activity. Subpoenas are needed to protect users’ privacy, Amazon told the Journal.
On the other hand, eBay says it is committed to cooperating with retail investigators and told the Journal that stolen goods are not allowed on the site.
The problem of cyber-criminality is not limited to California. Colorado police tracked one man to Katy, Texas, where he had, in effect, a home warehouse that included an elevator to move goods from floor to floor. A former painting contractor is alleged to have sold $5 million in stolen Home Depot tools from the home from 2018 to 2020, according to the Journal.
Amazon, which is quick to make sure you don’t put out a forbidden idea, as well as eBay have lobbied against Congressional efforts for more transparency in online selling. It’s to protect sellers’ privacy, they say.
Indeed. Imagine that, a Big Tech company concerned about privacy.
And you know who ultimately pays for all that stolen stuff sold online? You and I, in increased prices.
But no big deal — those thefts from stores are okay. Petty stuff, really. That’s why in California they’re called misdemeanors.
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