The firebrand progressive lawmaker said in an interview earlier this week that ‘a lot of these allegations of organized retail theft are not actually panning out’
Democrat Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is catching heat from Republican lawmakers and retail groups over comments dismissing a wave of smash-and-grab robberies that’s gripped parts of the United States in recent weeks.
‘They want to Defund the Police and then deny that the result is an increase in crime.’
Speaking to the Washington Times earlier this week Ocasio-Cortez claimed, ‘A lot of these allegations of organized retail theft are not actually panning out.’
‘I believe it’s a Walgreens in California cited it, but the data didn’t back it up.’
She was referring to an incident late last month during which four people armed with hammers broke into a Bay Area Walgreens and stole $2,400 worth of cosmetics and other merchandise.
The pharmacy chain was targeted earlier in November as well, when a van smashed through the front of a Baltimore Walgreens and thieves stole an ATM cash machine.
Her comments prompted at least one retail group to accuse the lawmaker who touts herself as a champion of the working class of not caring about everyday retail workers.
Walgreens said ‘organized retail crime is one of the top challenges’ it was facing.
It told the Washington Times that crime ‘has evolved beyond shoplifting and petty theft to the sale of stolen and counterfeit goods online.’
Republican lawmakers have been hammering AOC for her ‘tone deaf’ comments
LA looters ransack Home Depot and Bottega Veneta stores on Black Friday despite Gov. Newsom’s claim he would crack down on ‘smash and grab’ gangs targeting luxury stores across California
Rep. Jim Banks of Indiana called Ocasio-Cortez’s comments ‘tone-deaf and offensive’ after one incident in California resulted in the death of security guard Kevin Nishita.
Nishita, a former police officer and grandfather of three, was shot and killed by thieves in Oakland while protecting a news crew that was covering the robbery taking place. The news team from KRON4 had been reporting on a robbery which had involved 12 armed thugs wearing masks and hoods targeting a Prime 356 clothing store in Oakland.
Also asked about Ocasio-Cortez’s comments, the Retail Industry Leaders Association accused her of simply not caring about the store workers.
‘Respectfully, the Congresswoman has no idea what she is talking about. Both the data and stack of video evidence makes fairly clear that this is a growing problem in need of solutions,’ the group’s senior executive vice president of communications Jason Brewer told the Times.
‘If she is not concerned with organized theft and increasingly violent attacks on retail employees, she should just say that.’
Rep. Rodney Davis of Illinois said, ‘I don’t know what data she is talking about.’
This Best Buy in Burnsville, Minneapolis was targeted by more than 30 looters on Black Friday this year
‘But you don’t really need much data from someplace in San Francisco or California. All you need to do is walk down the street to the CVS in Eastern Market,’ he said referring to an area near the US Capitol.
‘I’ve seen on multiple occasions when I’ve been in there buying things, someone will come in and raid a shelf and walk out.’
But Ocasio-Cortez is not the only Democrat whose remarks on the smash-and-grab spree have caused ire – last week Press Secretary Jen Psaki said during her daily briefing that the rise in crime was due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Police in Los Angeles have announced 14 arrests in connection with 11 recent smash-and-grab robberies at stores where nearly $340,000 worth of merchandise was stolen, but all the suspects have been released.
Los Angeles Police Chief Michel Moore said that most of the accused robbers suspected of ransacking businesses between November 18 and 28 bailed out or met no-bail criteria, and one is a juvenile.
At a joint news conference on Thursday announcing the arrests, both Moore and Mayor Eric Garcetti called for an end to a no-bail policy for some defendants aimed at reducing overcrowding at Los Angeles County jails during the coronavirus pandemic.
That same day yet another flash mob-style robbery took place in San Jose, where police says four masked suspects brandishing hammers barged into Quick Service Jewelry Design inside the Eastridge Mall, smashed display cases and ran off with their loot.
There were 7,542 robberies in Los Angeles this year through November 27, the LAPD’s most recent data indicate, which represents a 3.9 per cent increase from the 7,258 robberies reported the same time last year.
Other major US cities have also seen a spike in store break-ins, including Chicago and its suburbs, where more than a dozen suspects attacked a Louis Vuitton store last month and stole more than $120,000 worth of high-end clothing and other merchandise.
On Black Friday this year, dozens of looters descended on a Minneapolis mall and brazenly marched through two Best Buy locations, taking whatever they liked with them off the shelves.