Make Shoplifting Bad Again

Big-name retailers are losing billions and closing stores because of activism.


John Stonestreet

According to Capital One, American retailers will lose a record $130 billion this year, as shoplifting continues to spike in several major cities. As reported in The Wall Street Journal, “Shoplifting rates in Portland were up 22% in the first half of 2023 when compared with the same period in 2019. Target, Nike, and outdoor gear retailer REI all announced closures of Portland-area stores last year after pleas for city leaders to do something fell, apparently, on deaf ears. 

Multiple factors have contributed to the problem, especially Portland’s $15 million budget cuts to the police in 2020 and the de-stigmatization of stealing. In recent years, some activists have described shoplifting as an act of “resistance,” reparation, or as a means of obtaining resources for the poor. 

Ideas have consequences. Though some think “stigma” is a dirty word, some things should be stigmatized, including theft, which is never a victimless crime. The retailers and consumers in Portland are finding that out the hard way. 


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