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Big-city crime in 2023 had some businesses saying enough is enough

Across the country in 2023, retail stores and other businesses were forced to contend with unmitigated crime that has had a detrimental impact on their business.

In major cities across the country in 2023 a number of retail stores and other businesses faced with rampant crime, to the detriment of their livelihood and customers' well-being.

Major metropolises like Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, Portland and Washington, D.C., were plagued by retail thieves ransacking malls and department stores, with many of the instances caught on video that were posted on social media.

The National Retail Federation (NRF) announced in September that shoplifting accounted for $112.1 billion in losses in 2022, up from $93.9 billion in 2021.

"Retailers are seeing unprecedented levels of theft coupled with rampant crime in their stores, and the situation is only becoming more dire," said David Johnston, NRF vice president for asset protection and retail operations. "Far beyond the financial impact of these crimes, the violence and concerns over safety continue to be the priority for all retailers, regardless of size or category."

In September, Target announced it would close multiple stores in Portland, San Francisco and New York City due to an alarming rise in theft and violence.


"Before making this decision, we invested heavily in strategies to prevent and stop theft and organized retail crime in our stores, such as adding more security team members, using third-party guard services, and implementing theft-deterrent tools across our business," Target said. "Despite our efforts, unfortunately, we continue to face fundamental challenges to operating these stores safely and successfully."

California in particular saw smash-and-grab robberies in luxury retail areas in southern and northern parts of the state.

In August, a Bay Area county supervisor, frustrated by rising retail theft in the area, admitted that state laws were "not working" to deter criminals.

"Enough is enough. All this retail theft. All this sort of crime, enough is enough. We really need to look at state laws. What we have in place right now is not working," San Mateo County Supervisor David Canepa said. "We can't go on like this."


The Democrat admitted that he regretted supporting California's Prop 47, which voters passed in 2014. Prop 47 downgraded certain thefts and drug possession crimes from a felony to a misdemeanor if the value of the stolen goods was less than $950.

"I had supported Proposition 47, which basically said you wouldn't prosecute — the crimes were much different at the level of up to $950. I thought it was a good idea at the time because I thought we need to give people an opportunity, we need to give people a chance," Canepa said to CBS News Bay Area.


"I made a mistake, it was a big mistake, and you have to acknowledge your mistake," he said. "By doing this, what we've done is we're letting people take thousands and thousands of dollars. And why should people be subjugated?"

In San Diego, a new law that allowed loitering with the intent to engage in prostitution resulted in a surge of prostitution in the city, leaving businesses to take on additional security costs and warn their customers that they will likely see near-naked women, as well as pimps, in the area.

"Costs for business, costs for security, we've had to put lights — at our cost — on the roof to try to deter them, and because of the bill, the lights now help them when they want to come in front of my building to shake and do different things … so they get attention versus being in the dark," a San Diego business owner told Fox News Digital.

The business owner spoke to Fox News Digital on the condition of anonymity out of concern that pimps or prostitutes in the area might retaliate against the business owner’s vehicles, property or employees. The business owner has been operating at the same location for the last 25 years.

"They'll break into cars, they'll pop tires. We've had a neighbor … who had his vehicle broken into multiple times and stolen the tools out of it," the business owner said.

The San Diego business owner described scenes akin to a gritty crime thriller in which pimps play loud music in cars as prostitutes walk the streets in heels; and when the women find a john, they’ll drive to a local hotel, or they'll go around the block if the john’s request is for "something that can be done quicker."

Fox News Digital’s Emma Colton contributed to this report.

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