Lightfoot under fire for suggesting retail stores increase security to prevent smash-and-grabs

The smash-and-grabs in Chicago and the surrounding suburbs seems to be a weekly occurrence.

But now, Mayor Lori Lightfoot is under fire for her comments, saying stores aren't doing enough.

The comments were made by Lightfoot on Monday and the fallout has continued ever since.

Just last Thursday, nine people stormed a store along Michigan Avenue, resulting in the arrest of just one offender, a 16-year-old boy.

He was charged with one felony count of retail theft.

Lightfoot blamed retailers for not making safety a priority.

"We also got to push retailers. Some of the retailers downtown and [on] Michigan Avenue, I will tell you, I'm disappointed that they are not doing more to take safety and make it a priority. For example, we still have retailers that won't institute plans like having security officers in their stores, making sure that they've got cameras that are actually operational, locking up their merchandise at night. Chaining high-end bags, these purses seem to be something that is attracting a lot of attention on these organized retail theft units," Lightfoot said.


The head of the Illinois Retail Merchants Association, Robert Carr, says Lightfoot’s comments are "sadly misinformed" and that retailers spend hundreds of millions of dollars every year on security.

"You can’t buzz everyone in and out the door. Retail doesn’t work that way. You can’t put everything behind lock and key and bars," said Carr.

Some high-end stores along the Gold Coast have hired security guards to usher in customers one at a time.

"The National Retail Federation says organized retail crimes have increased 60% in the past five years," said Carr.

Retailers aren’t the only ones who see the fallout from this. It also means millions aren’t coming in from sales tax for Chicago and the state of Illinois.

Lightfoot went on to say that more police patrols have been added in shopping districts across the city, including downtown and on Michigan Avenue.

Retail thefts have cost $3.7-billion to $4-billion in merchandise in the state.

On Tuesday, White House press secretary Jen Psaki distanced the Biden administration from recent comments made by progressives Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., and Mayor Lightfoot over their responses to the uptick in organized smash-and-grab robberies in big cities.

Psaki was asked during her daily press briefing by Fox News’ Jacqui Heinrich to weigh in on comments by Ocasio-Cortez, who cast doubt on the existence of mass smash-and-grab robberies, and Lightfoot, who appeared to place part of the blame on retailers for not better protecting their merchandise.

"We don’t agree," Psaki responded bluntly, adding that the Biden administration has been working with the Justice Department and FBI in providing resources to boost local police departments.

"We have seen some of these extremely disturbing videos showing retail theft," Psaki continued. "State and local leaders like Governor Gavin Newsom have identified this as a serious concern. We agree. That’s the reason why we have sent additional support from the FBI providing additional assistance. It’s one of the reasons why the president and members of our administration have been longtime advocates for supporting and funding the COPS program."  

"I think his record speaks for itself on this," she added.

Ocasio-Cortez came under fire from Republicans and business owners after she cast doubt on whether rampant smash-and-grabs are actually occurring.  

"A lot of these allegations of organized retail theft are not actually panning out," Ocasio-Cortez said in an interview with The Washington Times last week. "I believe it’s a Walgreens in California cited it, but the data didn’t back it up."

Fox News Channel contributed to this report.