Dem-Controlled Cities Legalize Shoplifting, Shocked When Businesses Flee

Walgreens Pharmacy and store closing sign at entrance, Queens, New York. (Photo by: Lindsey Nicholson/UCG/Universal Images Group via Getty Images)
Lindsey Nicholson/UCG/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

It’s easy to get the idea that the city of Boston has lost its creative spark. This is the place that once brought America a lot of firsts — the first public park, the first subway system, the first tea party, the first massacre and so on.

Now whenever you hear Boston in the news, it’s usually pretty uninspiring stuff by comparison. You’re hearing about how the mayor is banning white people from holiday parties, or the fact that the president of Harvard has never had an original thought in her life, or the decision by Mass General to bring back mask mandates.

Despite all that, it would be a mistake to say Boston has given up on innovation. They’re still doing groundbreaking stuff up there, at least if you ask them. For example, back in 2019, Suffolk County, Massachusetts — which includes the city of Boston — embarked on a first-of-its-kind, real-life social experiment. Under the leadership of their new district attorney, Rachel Rollins, Suffolk County decided to stop prosecuting criminals who were accused of most non-violent misdemeanors, including disorderly conduct and shoplifting. The cops would arrest the shoplifters, and then the prosecutors would just let them off the hook.

This was a relatively new strategy for a major American city — remember, this was before the “racial reckoning” of 2020. The theory was these kinds of prosecutions did more harm than good, and that it’s better to refer these criminals to counseling sessions instead of throwing them in prison.

A few years after that policy went into effect, leading researchers at major universities — including Rutgers, Texas A&M, and NYU — published a lengthy paper declaring Boston’s strategy had been successful. They found that, “the recent policy change in Suffolk County imposing a presumption of non-prosecution for nonviolent misdemeanor offenses … [decreased] the likelihood of subsequent criminal justice involvement.” In other words, if you let criminals get away with shoplifting, they’re less likely to get in trouble with the law in the future.

In Left-wing circles, this is known as “restorative justice,” and officials in Boston said it was proof their idea had worked.

WATCH: The Matt Walsh Show

What no one seemed to grasp at these universities, however, is that this is the exact result you should expect when you legalize shoplifting — and it’s not a good one. It’s not surprising that shoplifters don’t get in trouble with the law anymore if you stop prosecuting them for petty crimes. But that doesn’t mean they’ve stopped shoplifting and committing petty crimes. In fact, if anything, it means they’re shoplifting a lot more than they used to, because why wouldn’t they? They’re going to shoplift so much that it becomes impossible for businesses to stay open, which means that very quickly, so-called “disadvantaged communities” will lose access to convenience stores and pharmacies. They will become even more disadvantaged, which is supposedly the opposite of “restorative justice.”

We don’t have to speculate about this. All we have to do is look at what’s happening right now in Boston. Walgreens has just announced it’s closing its fourth location in Boston in the past year. Every single time, it’s been a low-income community, mostly black or Hispanic, that’s been affected. This time, they’re closing a store in the mostly black neighborhood of Roxbury.

You might think this development would prompt some reflection from the media in Boston, or the politicians, or activists in the local community. You might think they’d ask whether allowing people to rob stores is, in fact, a bad idea. But that’s not what’s happening. Instead, we’re getting reports like this one, from CBS Boston:

Well, that last question is easy to answer: Walgreens, just like every other private business, has no obligation whatsoever to lose money. They don’t have to stay open to provide any kind of “service” to the local community. Their job is to make money. That’s not greed. That’s called economics. It’s the government’s job to make sure there is law and order, so that thugs don’t just walk into the Walgreens and take everything. And in the past several years, the government has deliberately decided not to do that.

But there’s no sense anywhere in that entire segment that Boston’s policy of encouraging shoplifting might be to blame. You can go online and watch the whole clip if you want. It’s not there. There’s no sense that Boston’s recent decision to defund its police department could be playing a role, either. Instead, we’re left with the implication that Walgreens just doesn’t like black people. The argument appears to be that Walgreens should keep its business open as a charity, where it keeps bleeding money in order to provide various services to the local community.

But if you do some digging, it’s not hard to conclude why Walgreens is shutting down this Roxbury location. Here’s footage taken by a citizen journalist in Boston a couple of years ago. He films as police finally arrest a woman they said shoplifted three separate times in one day. Watch this to get a sense of what it’s like at these Walgreens locations in the area:

This is how common shoplifting became in Roxbury and the surrounding areas after Boston’s big push to legalize shoplifting. The cops don’t arrest the shoplifters anymore, for the most part. They released this woman several times before arresting her out of exasperation. And when they finally feel compelled to make an arrest, everyone knows it doesn’t really matter. The shoplifters know they won’t get prosecuted, so they keep coming back. That woman will be back robbing the store within a few hours.

That’s why Walgreens is now shutting down all these stores in Boston. This is a massive problem, as the cops say in that video. According to one study, shoplifting in Boston is up roughly 40%since June of 2019, when the city’s experiment began. That’s in the city overall. In neighborhoods like Roxbury, the figures are presumably far higher.

And it’s not just shoplifting that’s out of control. Recently the Boston Globe ran a story that was intended to portray Walgreens in a bad light, and make them seem like an evil greedy megacorp for closing their Roxbury location. But they included this information in their report. “[The] generational impact is felt by Roxbury residents like Lucille Culpepper-Jones. … She said she doesn’t see herself visiting the Columbus Avenue drugstore [a mile away], because she doesn’t feel safe walking there alone.”

So this is a neighborhood that’s so dangerous that elderly women don’t want to go outside. And yet we’re expected to believe that businesses should stay open in these kinds of neighborhoods, where their stores will get robbed and their employees will get attacked. That’s just an assumption CBS and the NAACP demand you make. So naturally they’re telling everyone to protest Walgreens, instead of the politicians that CBS and the NAACP support.

Of course, protesting Walgreens’ decision to pull out of this neighborhood is a bit like protesting the laws of gravity. You can whine all you want, but basic economic principles still exist. Businesses exist to make a profit, and when they can’t make a profit, they have to close down. But the other day, the residents of Roxbury dutifully protested anyway. Watch:

So CBS does some investigative reporting in that segment, by which I mean their reporter sat in the parking lot for a little while and noticed a “steady stream” of customers at the Walgreens. We’re apparently supposed to conclude from this that the store is doing great businesses, and has no reason to close. But the problem with shoplifting isn’t that no one goes into the store. It’s that too many people go into the store — specifically criminals — and then they don’t pay. But the reporter can’t explore that avenue whatsoever, because that would be racist.

In fact, in their statement, Walgreens couldn’t really blame shoplifting either. They had to give some coded language about market dynamics. That’s a contrast to what we saw last year, when Target shut down nine stores, including its store on Folsom Street in San Francisco and one location in Harlem. In that instance, Target explicitly blamed, “theft and organized retail crime [which] are threatening the safety of our team and guests, and contributing to unsustainable business performance.”


After Target made that decision, various Left-wing publications, including CNBC, attacked Target. They rushed to point out that Target was closing stories with relatively low reports of shoplifting, compared to stores Target was leaving open. And from this data point, we were supposed to conclude that Target was racist. Of course the whole argument was absurd. One of the problems with this analysis is that stores where shoplifting is common often don’t report it. That led to a comical moment in 2021, when a single Target store decided to start reporting shoplifting incidents, which doubled the entire city’s shoplifting rate in the month of September.

None of this is compatible with social justice narratives, so you never hear about it. Now stores like Walgreens have learned to just avoid mentioning organized theft entirely. But that hasn’t appeased these activists. They still want you to conclude that there’s a vast racist conspiracy among various pharmacies to pull out of black communities, just to spite them. You’re supposed to believe that this is why, in just the past two years, between Walgreens, Rite Aid, and CVS, more than 1,500 stores have closed

It’s completely insane, but it’s not just activists in Boston who are pushing this narrative. We’re seeing this denial of reality everywhere, including San Francisco. And once again, the NAACP is involved. Watch:

So they’re going to get rid of the business and replace it with housing, probably because housing is a little tougher to steal. But once again, in that news report, there’s not even a suggestion that San Francisco’s policies might be to blame. And that’s odd, given that San Francisco’s policies mirror Boston’s. According to NBC San Francisco,, “Under current state law, shoplifting merchandise valued under $950 is considered a misdemeanor and often not investigated.”

Could that be the issue, perhaps? Let’s see. Chicago is another city that stopped prosecuting shoplifters unless they steal more than $1,000 worth of goods. And even then, cops aren’t allowed to chase them. How are things going there?

Last year, the mayor at the time, Lori Lightfoot, had to respond to Walmart’s decision to pull out of the South Side. You’ll never guess what she said. Watch:

It’s amazing how unified the messaging has been on this issue, going back years. This is nothing new. And still, there’s no self-reflection at all. There’s no accountability for the people who have actually made these communities into dead zones for businesses.

The next time you hear complaints about “food deserts” or “pharmacy deserts,” keep in mind this is what’s causing the problem. It’s a systemic issue plaguing every city that has implemented the bold experiment Boston launched back in 2019. Now one of two outcomes is possible: Either this experiment can finally end, we can enforce the law, and people living in these black communities can get their prescriptions and their groceries. Or these residents can continue voting for politicians who will only make the problem progressively worse, until elderly women are quite literally dying in the streets because they can’t get their medication.

It’s clear that’s what the NAACP and corporate press want. And unless these communities start taking some responsibility, that’s exactly what they’ll get.

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The Daily Wire   >  Read   >  Dem-Controlled Cities Legalize Shoplifting, Shocked When Businesses Flee