IN the US, the systematic plundering of shops by criminal gangs has reached catastrophic proportions and is known as ORC – Organised Retail Crime.
As author Michael Snyder explains in this blog, the gigantic theft spree is now a multi-million-dollar crisis, forcing many businesses to ramp up prices or simply close down.
He says: ‘The thin veneer of civilisation that we all depend on is rapidly disappearing, and if we stay on this path our society will soon be unrecognisable.’
It is a shocking enough situation for towns cities to face. But what if the philosophy of mass organised theft was widened to encompass whole countries – and effectively legalised? Incredible as it may seem, that is already happening, with the EU as the plunderer and Russia as the target, as I explain further down.
ORC incidents in the US rose by more than a quarter in 2021, and understandably the looting is most serious where shoplifting laws are soft. Some stores – for example in Portland, Oregon – can be hit several times in the same day, and this is especially ruinous for small businesses.
One store has a notice in its window: ‘Don’t be fooled into thinking that insurance companies cover losses. We have sustained 15 break-ins. We have not received any financial reimbursement since the third.’
A former retail CEO told Fox News that the situation has become an epidemic, worse than Covid, and that retail theft is now a national crisis. It’s no longer just theft, it’s smash and grab.
The US Chamber of Commerce is pleading for effective changes to the law, revealing that ORC cost more than 700million dollars for every one billion dollars in sales in 2021.
If the thieves are so successfully organised, then the prosecutors have to be even more so, especially now that violence is becoming the norm. People imagine this is a victimless crime, but the owners, the staff, the customers all suffer. ‘Where there is no safety, nothing can thrive.’
It’s easy to look at the US situation and think: ‘Those poor souls.’ But it’s not exactly better in the UK. A recent report from the police watchdog for England and Wales condemned current clear-up rates for burglary, theft and robbery as ‘unacceptable and unsustainable’. Home Office figures reveal that less than seven per cent of domestic burglaries end in the offender being charged, falling to four per cent for theft, and one per cent for car theft.
Police have effectively given up investigating shoplifting.The upmarket London store Fortnum & Mason, for example, no longer calls the police, but employs private detectives and brings its own prosecutions.
HM Inspector of Constabulary Andy Cooke echoes the words of US crimefighters, saying that these offences strike at the heart of how safe people feel in their own homes and communities, and there needs to be a concerted effort to address the issue. It represents a direct call to governments and lawmakers everywhere. You would expect that they, if no one else, should be setting the right example.
So are they setting the right example? Are they heck!
Just this month, we learned that the EU is testing legal options to confiscate frozen Russian Central Bank assets to finance reconstruction in Ukraine.
And not just Central Bank cash. EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen has announced: ‘We have blocked 300billion euros of the Russian Central Bank reserves, as well as 19billion euros of Russian oligarchs’ money.’ She further boasted: ‘We will work on an international agreement with our partners to make this possible. And together, we can find legal ways to do it.’
While pressure has increased from several member states for Brussels to come up with ways to seize Russian assets and make Russian leaders accountable, EU officials admit that they can’t just confiscate frozen Russian funds. Meanwhile, the Commission is busy exploring ways to make ‘Russia pay’, by ‘clarifying the international context and identifying assets, as preliminary steps for confiscation’.
It is clear that most EU countries see unsurmountable obstacles to seizing frozen assets, unless the offender or institution in question has been criminally convicted. But the Commission members don’t let this deter them, saying: ‘We think we can create a structure that would allow us to actively manage these assets and use the proceeds to help Ukraine.’
The EU has form on this. As far back as 2012, it robbed the personal bank accounts of Cyprus citizens to pay for its bailout of the country following the financial crash. Commentators later opined that this should serve as a lesson to account holders everywhere.
The EU termed this ‘an upfront one-off stability levy’. Critics more correctly dubbed it: ‘A nice way of reframing the exact dictionary definition of stealing, i.e. “taking the property of another without their permission.”’
In the course of its ideological commitment to continuing the war against Russia, the EU is busy framing a ninth package of sanctions, and even forming war crimes tribunals. Financial and political commentator Tom Luongo doesn’t mince his words about this. ‘They are looking for legal means to steal all Russian assets within their geographical borders,’ he says. ‘This is nothing short of wholesale looting, that goes far beyond the initial violations of international law even the most hardened Ukraine supporter can accuse Russia of since the 24 February invasion.’
The EU and those who take the Ukrainian side are claiming that ‘democracy hangs in the balance’, in a country where democracy does not now exist, where opposition parties have been banned and imprisoned, and even the Orthodox Church closed down. In the mind of Frau von der Leyen, ‘to save democracy, we have to abolish it.’
Luongo quotes the lyrics of Canadian rock band Rush, who in their 1991 album Roll the Bones, sang about the fall of communism in Eastern Europe and Russia and the about-face consumerism that resulted. ‘The counter-revolution at the counter of a store, people buy the things they want and borrow for a little more. All those wasted years – Who Will Pay?’
There’s no doubt now what the EU Commission has in mind, and in this it is no better than the ORC gangs of downtown San Francisco and other US cities. Bank deposits safe in their owners’ accounts? People safe in their own communities? Forget it. This is just pure daylight robbery.