The rise of looting as a way of life is not due to COVID-19, according to one Democratic California mayor.
In recent weeks, multiple California stores have been hit by gangs of organized looters who show up and raid a store en masse.
San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo said the answer is in the eternal actions of criminals looking to find a way to evade the law.
“I think criminals are at the root of smash-and-grab crimes. And criminals come up with new arrangements every time that we catch them on the old ones and this is just the nature of criminal enforcement,” Liccardo told “America’s Newsroom” on Friday, according to Fox News.
That’s not how White House press secretary Jen Psaki framed the issue in her media briefing on Thursday, however, when asked about the uptick in thefts.
“Does the president still think that crime is up because of the pandemic?” Peter Doocy of Fox News asked Psaki.
“I think many people have conveyed that, and also one of the reasons that crime — one of the root reasons crime we’ve — root causes of crime in communities is guns and gun violence. And we’ve seen that statistically around the country,” Psaki said.
“But, to your point, so when a huge group of criminals organizes themselves and they want to go loot a store — a CVS, a Nordstrom, a Home Depot — until the shelves are clean, do you think that’s because of the pandemic?” Doocy asked in a follow-up question.
“I think a root cause in a lot of communities is the pandemic, yes,” Psaki said.
Is the COVID pandemic to blame for increased looting?
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Liccardo, a former prosecutor, said San Jose did not indulge in the trend of defunding the police but noted that does not mean there is no room for improvement.
“We just got to be more nimble and use technological tools and be able to be smart about how we use our police departments,” Liccardo said.
“Here in San Jose we don’t defund. We make sure we do all we can to ensure officers are out on the street and we also try to keep guns off the street. This isn’t about Democrat or Republican policies. This is about being smart,” he said.
Liccardo said California’s Proposition 47 has not been “helpful” in addressing the rise in smash-and-grab crime.
Under Prop 47, shoplifters who steal items valued at less than $950 do not face felony charges.
He said that in San Jose, many thieves face felony charges “as they should.”
Mark Powell, a former reserve San Diego police officer and the president of Parents For Quality Education, said in an Op-Ed for the Times of San Diego that the issue is Prop 47.
“A society rarely survives without some code of conduct and we can all agree that stealing is illegal. In fact, stealing has been against the law since Biblical times. Laws protect our general safety, and ensure our rights as citizens against abuses by other people, by organizations, and by the government itself,” he wrote.
“But when bad laws such as Prop. 47 are in place they must be amended. Our political leaders need to strengthen property crime laws and enact new legislation or amend current laws — or we can simply get used to being ripped off on a regular basis, feeling there is nothing we can do about it,” he wrote.