Local shopkeepers have found themselves in quite a conundrum lately. Measure Q passed easily in the last election, after dire predictions of a public safety collapse without the additional revenue provided by the tax measure. Oddly, that seems to be exactly what happened anyway. After hearing stories of the crimewave facing our neighborhoods, we wondered how local businesses are dealing with it. Many local businesses were big supporters of taxing themselves for public safety. We assumed that they were going to be the main beneficiaries of the increased law enforcement promised by City officials during the Measure Q campaign.
Our staff has gone out in the field over the last few weeks and have been checking with many local business both large and small. What we have heard and seen has really surprised even the most cynical among us.
There is basically no protection for local businesses at all. When shoplifters are caught in the act and the police are called the a cop may (and we do mean MAY) show up. Once the officers on scene it’s extremely rare for an arrest to actually happen. In some cases, the perpetrator isn’t even told to leave. However, in most cases we were told about the suspects are taken outside and after a brief conversation they are simply let go.
One popular market we talked to said they have repeat offenders who have no fear of arrest. The same thieves come in two or three times a day and steal. When these people are told they’re not allowed in the store they just ignore the employees, because they know there is nothing that the employees can do.
A local car dealer says cars and parts are regularly being stolen from their lot. We’ve noticed private security presence at many new locations, but what good is that if the police won’t arrest people who were caught in the act of stealing!
This all makes us wonder; What can these businesses do? Take the law in to their own hands? We don’t recommended or condone that. Firstly, employees will be the first to go to jail if they try and protect their life and property. Secondly, a store cashier or minimum wage security guard isn’t well trained to deal with criminals. The police are. But that of course begs the other question; If the police are well trained and get paid to protect life and property, then why aren’t they at the very least arresting thieves caught stealing at local stores?