Sunday, May 23, 2021

Do criminals respond to incentives? (II)

 In San Francisco they do.  In 2014, the city reclassified nonviolent thefts as misdemeanors if the stolen goods are worth less than $950.  With a lower expected penalty for stealing goods, and big expected benefits, like open air markets that allow thieves to fence stolen goods, crime has surged.

As I was paying for [a purchase], a man walked into the store, grabbed a handful of beef jerky and walked out. I looked over at an employee, who shrugged. Then I went to Safeway next door for some groceries and I saw a man stuffing three bottles of wine into a backpack and walking casually toward the exit.  ...   

Thieves “are obviously choosing locales based on what the consequences are,” Safaí said. “If there are no consequences for their actions, then you invite the behavior. Over and over.” ...

Walgreens said that thefts at its stores in San Francisco were four times the chain’s national average, and that it had closed 17 stores, largely because the scale of thefts had made business untenable.

HT:  MarginalRevolution.com

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