From their most recent editorial I gather than somebody on the Washington Post staff went to the CVS to buy some Advil and were astonished to find the shelves bare. Here’s a snippet:
Shoppers visiting the CVS Pharmacy at 14th and Irving streets NW in Washington recently must think they traveled back in time to the Soviet Union. The store’s shelves are bare. The refrigerator cases are devoid of food or beverages. When we visited, only sunscreen and greeting cards were on display. But the bizarre scene is not a result of a failed planned economy; rampant theft is the cause. Shoplifters ransacked this CVS over two days early last month, and it hasn’t been restocked since. Weeks later, there’s still hardly anything to buy — or steal.
The CVS at 14th and Irving symbolizes extreme retail theft and the harms it can engender. Distressing and inconvenient to ordinary people, threatening to businesses and livelihoods, and repellent to tourists, unchecked shoplifting can corrode a community’s spirit.
It’s happening in the nation’s capital. The D.C. police department does not track shoplifting specifically but reports that theft in general is up 22 percent over last year. It is harder and harder to find a grocery or pharmacy in the District that doesn’t lock up laundry detergent, toilet paper and deodorant. A Giant in Southeast no longer even stocks certain name-brand health and beauty products that thieves target. A liquor store downtown is closing because of constant shoplifting. The H Street Walmart shuttered earlier this year. (The company said the store “hasn’t performed as well as we hoped.”)
I was reminded of John Adams’s remarks:
But should the People of America, once become capable of that deep <, Start deletion,[. . .], End,> simulation towards one another and towards foreign nations, which assumes the Language of Justice and moderation while it is practicing Iniquity and Extravagance; and displays in the most captivating manner the charming Pictures of Candour frankness & sincerity while it is rioting in rapine and Insolence: this Country will be the most miserable Habitation in the World. Because We have no Government armed with Power capable of contending with human Passions unbridled by <, Start deletion,[. . .], End,> morality and Religion. Avarice, Ambition <, Start deletion,and, End,> Revenge or Galantry, would break the strongest Cords of our Constitution as a Whale goes through a Net. Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious People. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other
There are several known ways of controlling theft. The first and best is for people not to steal because stealing is wrong. The second is to ensure that would-be thieves are deterred by the likelihood of being apprehended and punished. The third is to maintain a police force large and empowered enough to apprehend criminals, DAs to prosecute criminals, and judges to punish them. The last is to authorize and empower shopkeepers to protect their stores against theft.
When none of those are the case, you have more theft.