LA county sheriff rips AOC's dismissal of smash-and-grab robberies as a 'jedi mind trick'

Private security company says small businesses are in a ‘panic’ over smash and grab but cannot afford services

Omni Private Security Services CEO Joseph Farag and CFO Andrew Dimian discuss increased demand for their services amid organized retail theft in California.

Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva on Wednesday described Democratic New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s comments dismissing smash-and-grab robberies as a “Jedi mind trick.”

Ocasio-Cortez recently told The Washington Times that “a lot of these allegations of organized retail theft are actually not panning out,” naming a “Walgreens in California that cited the issue but didn’t have the “data to back it up.”

“In the words of John Adams, ‘Facts are stubborn things; and whatever may be our wishes, our inclinations, or the dictates of our passion, they cannot alter the state of facts and evidence,’” Villanueva began. “No matter how badly certain politicians want to perform the Jedi mind trick to further their political narrative, the facts and evidence cannot be altered.”

Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva speaks at a news conference in Los Angeles. Villanueva says he will not enforce the county’s vaccine mandate in his agency. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong,File)

The Democratic New York congresswoman’s comments referenced Walgreens’ recent decision to close nearly two dozen stores in San Francisco, earning it the moniker “shoplifter’s paradise.”

Walgreens told the Times that “organized retail crime is one of the top challenges facing” the company, adding that the crime “has evolved beyond shoplifting and petty theft to the sale of stolen and counterfeit goods online.”

In October 2020, San Francisco law enforcement officials recovered approximately $8 million in stolen merchandise in the city.

The trend of thieves breaking into stores and walking away with handfuls — or cart-fulls — of merchandise has become known as “smash-and-grab robberies.”

A witness captured a group of women running out of a San Francisco CVS Pharmacy with bags allegedly stuffed full of stolen items as a spree of retail thefts continue to plague the city. 

Black Friday saw news reports of such robberies in Minneapolis, Los Angeles and Chicago. 

High-end stores in San Francisco were vandalized, with thousands of dollars in merchandise retrieved by police. While the trend is not necessarily new, it may be happening more frequently.

The Retail Industry Leaders Association has estimated that in 2019, prior to the coronavirus pandemic, burglars stole an estimated $68.9 billion worth of products. A large majority of asset protection managers reported a moderate to considerable increase in organized retail crime in March 2020 compared to March 2019, according to the RLIA. Meanwhile, 80% thought the situation would get worse in 2021.

“Respectfully, the Congresswoman has no idea what she is talking about. Both the data and stack of video evidence makes fairly clear that this is a growing problem in need of solutions,” Jason Brewer, RILA senior executive vice president of communications, said in an email. “If she is not concerned with organized theft and increasingly violent attacks on retail employees, she should just say that.”

Fox News’ Emma Colton and Sam Dorman contributed to this report.

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