A spokesman for Chicago’s police union places the blame for a sharp increase in shoplifting over the last few years squarely on the shoulders of Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx.
“Kimberly Foxx’s restorative justice is all about restoring criminals back to the streets where they can prey on innocent people and merchants,” Fraternal Order of Police spokesman Martin Preib told Chicago City Wire.
The neighborhood news outlet, CWBChicago, reports that retail theft reports in the city have jumped 20 percent since Foxx was elected in November 2016. In some areas, the increases are much higher. Reported incidents of theft have nearly doubled in the Rush Street shopping district. On State Street, cases are up 32 percent.
Cook County State's Attorney Kim Foxx
CWBChicago says that Foxx’s office is rejecting felony shoplifting cases more often than it pursues them by a ratio of about 2-to-1. By comparison, prosecutors approved felony retail theft charges by a ratio of roughly 3-to-1 in the year before Foxx was sworn-in (December 2016).
“Attorneys in Foxx’s office are instructed to not pursue felony charges against shoplifting suspects unless the value of the pilfered merchandise exceeds $1,000,” the news outlet said. “That’s three times the $300 felony threshold set by state law.”
A similar menacing trend is occurring in California where voters in 2014 approved a proposition that increased raising the cut-off point for felony retail theft to $950.
In July, a 7-Eleven franchise owner told NBC Los Angeles that every day shoplifters come in and take what they want if they keep it under a certain amount.
"It’s happening every day, hour by hour,” said 7-Eleven franchise owner Jassi Dhillon. “It’s unbearable. It’s out of control. You will have the same guy coming in five times a day, picking things out."
CWBChicago reported that only one shopping area, Michigan Avenue between the Chicago River and Oak Street, is seeing a decline in shoplifting cases.
“The reason for this year’s decline is not clear,” the news outlet said. “However, Water Tower Place mall in January began requiring teenagers to have adult chaperones on weekends, which may make the retail strip less attractive.”