Posted by Curt on 18 June, 2020 at 10:56 am. 3 comments already!


Hundreds of millions of dollars.

That’s the big number that insurance companies expect to deal with as stores and businesses start filing insurance claims after being devastated by rioters and looters across more than 20 states.

Some looters defended their crimes because the insurance was going to cover it, but small, minority-owned businesses, which were the hardest hit by the riots, have the least coverage and the highest deductibles. Some let their policies lapse because they had been shut down during the lockdowns.

Between the lockdowns and the looting, many family businesses may never reopen at all.

But the looting didn’t begin with the riots.

New York City, with a rich and diverse retail sector that covers everything from Gucci to bodegas, had some of the worst looting in the country. But months before the looting went viral on social media during the protests, store owners and small businesses were suffering from “slow looting.”

After the pandemic sent New York City into a state of emergency, commercial burglaries shot up 75 percent. By April, they were up 169 percent. The NYPD zeroed in on “organized” and “targeted” burglaries happening overnight in a city whose businesses were locked down and whose owners were forced to stay home.

The rise in “slow looting” hit New York City, Philadelphia, Denver and Seattle months before the nationwide riots and protests. Commercial burglaries rose 71 percent in Philadelphia44 percent in Seattle and 41 percent in Denver. Half of Connecticut municipal police departments reported a 49 percent increase in commercial burglaries. In California, Los Angeles, Oakland, San Diego and San Francisco, commercial burglaries shot up 37 percent.

Where was this giant spike in looting coming from?

Some criminals stopped trying to rob residential homes, where the locked down owners were binging on Netflix or trying to keep their kids from climbing the walls. But there was another ticking time bomb.

Criminal justice reform advocates had warned that if prison inmates weren’t released, massive coronavirus outbreaks would kill many of the convicted criminals serving time behind bars.

By April, over 16,000 inmates had been freed from prisons across the country.

Major municipalities cut as much as 40 percent of their prison populations. Putting thousands of criminals back on the street during lockdowns and massive unemployment wasn’t going to end well.

And it didn’t.

The “slow looting” crushed businesses that were already deep in the red because of the pandemic and the lockdowns. Then the riots and looting finished the job, wiping out retail in entire neighborhoods.

Protests and violent clashes provided the criminals who had been systematically robbing businesses with the perfect opportunity to go big while the police were tied down. Media coverage conflated mobs of opportunistic looters tearing their way through a CVS or a Target, and grabbing candy or beer, with organized criminal gangs who had a list of targets, equipment and the skills to break into secured buildings. The mobs of casual looters often followed in their wake, picking up their leftovers.

While the police were dodging bricks, fireworks and bullets at protest rallies, in the retail sector, a fortune in merchandise—some of it high-end—vanished quickly, efficiently and often without a trace. The perpetrators carefully tracked the police, striking in areas like Midtown Manhattan or Santa Monica, where the police were overwhelmed or had been told to stand down.

Their targets trended toward fashion brands and jewelry that they could easily unload.

Where did this nationwide outbreak of Ocean’s 11 talent come from? The local penitentiary. The mass release of prisoners around the same time put convicts with lots of experience out on the street.

The criminal justice reform activists who freed them didn’t have a plan. But the criminals did.

The reformers were concerned with the welfare of the criminals, but not the rest of us. They pushed for a massive national jailbreak based on exaggerated claims about a coronavirus outbreak in prisons. But the chaos spread by the rioting and looting may have seriously undermined social distancing measures, raising the risk of another outbreak of the pandemic in major cities—and thus, even more deaths.

There was a good case for releasing elderly inmates in their seventies who were most at risk, but criminal justice reform advocates jumped on the opportunity to advance their larger agenda. Now countless businesses, including family shops and minority-owned stores, have been decimated.

And even those losses that insurance will cover are going to be passed on to the rest of us in the form of higher insurance rates and more expensive prices. Worst of all, some neighborhoods may never recover.

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