In a recent incident, a CVS store manager lost his life due to an alleged shoplifting dispute.
On September 7, Michael Jacobs, 49, of Mesa, Arizona faced a confrontation with 39-year-old Jared Sevey about a suspected theft.
Earlier in the day, the two had a disagreement over shoplifting allegations. Sevey left and subsequently returned, this time armed, and later confessed to shooting Jacobs.
Alarmingly, this is part of an emerging pattern of retail-related violence.
The incident is not isolated. Last month, a security guard at a Home Depot in the San Francisco Bay Area was attacked when confronting a suspected shoplifter.
Likewise, in Nashville this month, a confrontation at a Walgreens resulted in the shooting of a pregnant woman believed to be shoplifting.
Such incidents are, in part, blamed on policies like California’s Prop 47, which changed theft from a felony charge to a misdemeanor. The reduced police presence following the 2020 calls to decrease police funding has also been highlighted.
New York City, in particular, has seen an increase in shoplifting. The lenient stance of Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg towards shoplifting suspects has been a point of contention for some city officials. Many retailers, without a standardized approach nationwide, are now counseling employees against confronting shoplifters.
The economic toll on retailers is considerable. In 2021, losses from shoplifting approached $100 billion, accompanied by over 63,000 reported incidents — a notable increase from preceding years.
In response, New York is focusing on deterring habitual offenders. Proposals include pre-trial detentions for those with felony backgrounds and a record of bypassing court hearings. The Merchants Business Improvement Program is another initiative, allowing merchants to pursue restraining orders against frequent shoplifters.
As these events persist, there’s an intensified focus on the well-being of retail personnel and the broader challenges posed by increasing retail theft.