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Carlson: chronic shoplifting embodies Seattle's failures

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Chronic shoplifting problems in Seattle have spawned impromptu protests like this one in July 2019 and the crimes are essentially being ignored by the current Seattle City Attorney, Pete Holmes. (photo: KOMO News).{ }

What happens when the word gets around in Seattle that you won't get arrested or face a judge for shoplifting, asks KVI's John Carlson ?

Well, we’re finding out.

In his latest Crosscut.com column, Carlson writes: keep this in mind the next time you hear the Mayor’s Office reporting a reduction in crime downtown. What’s decreasing, I suspect, is the number of crimes being reported.

At Uwajimaya Asian Market in the International District there are now between 10 and 20 “security incidents” a day, including theft, property destruction and harassment of customers or staff. CEO Denise Moriguchi told KOMO-4 News that the store loses thousands of dollars a week.

It’s reached the point where some shoplifters caught and turned over to police brazenly return to Uwajimaya the following day. According to store manager Alan Hamada, one stood outside the store, asking customers to write out a list that the shoplifter would go in and “get” for them — for a fee.

The shoplifting cases are virtually ignored by the city attorney's office when they involve products valued at $25 or less and the repeat criminals know that, so they poach store shelves more often, snatching low enough values to avoid police arrest.

Like so many of Seattle's continuing problems with crime, drug addiction and homelessness, this sub-set involving chronic shoplifting is self-inflicted from bad public policy, in this case the refusal to enforce criminal laws that are wantonly being broken.

John Carlson, is heard daily 6a-9a on Talk Radio 570 KVI and writes news columns for Crosscut.com fortnightly.

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