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OPINION

Pardon Kevin Madrid

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Townhall.com.
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D.C. Metropolitan Police

A Family Dollar store employee shot and killed a serial shoplifter. The shooter should be pardoned.

According to early news reports, Kevin Salas Madrid confronted a serial shoplifter in a Family Dollar store in Arizona. The thief punched the security guard in the face and knocked off his glasses. Madrid responded by pulling out a gun and shooting the shoplifter ten times. As this information is based on early reporting, facts may change and additional information such as the name of the shoplifter will probably come out. On the assumption that the above is true, then I would strongly urge the governor of Arizona to pardon Kevin Madrid.

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Shoplifting is seen by many on the Left as little more than jaywalking. It’s a minor nuisance, poor people need the stuff they steal, and there is probably insurance. Everything in that last sentence is a lie. Shoplifting is a major drain on store income, and at some point stores may just shut shop rather than lose money every month. Did anyone notice that Walmart is closing its last three stores in anarchy-filled Portland? Walmart, being a corporate behemoth, used mealy-mouthed language to explain the closings, but did admit that theft was a factor. And as to the thieves, with California not prosecuting thefts up to $950 per day per store, an active business has grown of stealing stuff from Walgreens and discount stores and then selling the merchandise for reduced prices. So no, not all those who steal are unfortunates who need the stuff. Whether they have the right to steal is for a different essay. And finally, as to insurance. The first job of any insurance agent is to find a reason why not to pay out a claim. “Oh, your insurance only included the first half of the month! We don’t have to pay”. So no, insurance does not always pay. And as we learned from the George Floyd demolition derby, where arsonists said that it was no problem burning down buildings because there was insurance, buildings and merchandise are oftentimes under-insured. So a $4M building that went up in smoke during those riots may have been insured for only half of its value. The owner may choose to pocket the money and not rebuild. It took decades for the areas destroyed by the 1991 LA riots to come back to life and the same will probably be true in Ferguson and Minneapolis and wherever stores were destroyed in the name of “justice”.

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The shoplifting that Kevin Madris fought is far more pernicious than the minor nuisance claimed by those on the Left. Shoplifting raises the prices of all remaining goods for the rest of the consumers. Additionally, more expensive items may not be stocked or may be locked behind plastic. People wait for the few employees a store may have in order to open up cases and get the products they want. And again, as has occurred in San Francisco, New York, Philadelphia, and Portland, stores simply close when they see more red than black in their bottom lines. Starbucks, Walgreens, Walmart, smaller mom-and-pop stores, and others have simply thrown in the towel due to crime and have pulled up stakes. How many people were able to make their money go farther in Portland at those soon-to-be-gone Walmart stores? How many of thousands will now pay more for everything from groceries to clothes for their kids? Shoplifting destroys the underpinning of a functioning society: trust. A branch of Smith’s food stores in Las Vegas is completely redoing the store to make “a store within a store”. I asked why and was told that a lot of the smaller cosmetics are getting stolen so they want them in the inner store where they can keep better tabs on merchandise. When we lose the bonds of trust, how will our society continue to function?

And since shoplifting is a big deal, Kevin Madris should be pardoned. This has nothing to do with the color or background of the shooter or the thief. Guards have to be given the tools and the approval to prevent theft from their stores. Just as the police have been left high and dry by politicians and Soros DA’s, store guards do not have the police or social backing to actively prevent theft. I see the security guys at TJ Maxx and Marshalls wearing jackets that say in an Orwellian fashion, “Loss Prevention” rather than “Security”, but stories like this one only teach such employees not to risk their lives, careers, or futures to do their jobs. Maybe try to grab the bag of stolen goods, but don’t try to cuff the guy or physically prevent him from leaving the store. Every security guard knows that he will be the one rotting in jail and not the bad guy he tried to stop. Cops learned this after Michael Brown and George Floyd and crime is up in every major city—by double digit percentages. 

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If we want cops and security personnel to do their jobs, we have to have their backs. Every society errs, and the errors tend to make for a pendulum. Today, society errs on the side of the criminals. Individuals with multiple arrests for violent crime are let back on the street with no bail and lo and behold, they commit more violent crime. The pendulum will swing back in the direction of law and order as it did in the 1990’s. While the governor of Arizona should pardon Mr. Madris, the Arizona legislature should pass a law empowering store security guards like him to know exactly what they can do to prevent serial and frequent shoplifting. They certainly should not shoot to kill everyone who steals, but they should be given the power to cuff or hold a suspect at gunpoint until the police arrive. Shoplifting destroys the fabric of society. Maybe we will give the police and security guards too much power and there will be abuses, but the time has come to stop this social scourge as well as the violent crime that is making US cities unlivable. Where do you find New Yorkers afraid of crime? In Florida.

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