It's Not What You Think
San Francisco's soft on crime initiatives border on neglect
You've likely seen the videos and headlines about shoplifting in San Francisco. It's been labeled an epidemic of sorts as Walgreens announces the closure of 4 stores in the city due to costs accrued from the crime spike. What's causing the spike? It's not as complicated as you'd think. Back in 2014, the state passed Proposition 47 which reduced theft of under $950 from a felony to a misdemeanor. For perspective, in NYC, thefts of that amount are punishable by up to 364 days in jail and a $1,000 fine. Even in Oregon, the Progressive Mecca, perpetrators risk up to a year in jail and a $6,250 fine.
Take this in step with controversial San Francisco DA Chesa Boudin's 2020 decision not to punish so called "quality of life" crimes such as public urination, prostitution, camping, drug use, etc., and it's easy to see how the city has become a haven for low-level, petty crime.
As the DA has successfully reduced the number of arrests, the amount of property-crime and hard drug use has skyrocketed. Supporters of the initiative point to the city's sinking shoplifting cases over the past twenty years—a trend that seems on the upswing—while pointing out that theft under $50 has decreased by half and theft of items over $50 has increased nearly eight-fold. Apologists use this statistic to beg the question of whether the SFPD is operating in "good faith" or if they are "fiddling with the numbers" to make their case—a baseless accusation.
Most supporters of Boudin's lazy take on crime ignore the effect of lockdowns and Chesa Boudin's "quality of life" initiative in exacerbating a ten-year-old proposition. No other city in the state has witnessed such an increase despite Prop. 47 applying to them as well. This recent wave is unique to San Francisco. A journalist, writing out of Chicago, even goes so far as to say "It's not happening, but if it was, Walgreens deserves it" because of a case in which Walgreens shorted warehouse employees by not including check-in and check-out times in their hourly pay. The tactic of denying an action's existence, but excusing it if it did, in theory, happen is a classic strategy drawn out of the Progressive playbook and documented well by Michael Anton who Progressives in support of the soft on crime to the point of neglect initiatives would dismiss as reactionary or worse racist.
Chesa Boudin and Mayor London Breed refuse to face the reality that property crime in the city is turning away residents and businesses. There hasn't been an honest attempt to ask if maybe Proposition 47 combined with Boudin's public urination permissions contributes to shoplifting or whether shoplifting exists at all. All the city's leaders can muster in response is "Is it really that bad?"