Desperate Times Are Forcing More Americans Than Ever To Do This

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With every minute that passes by without Congress passing any sort of coronavirus relief package, our country sinks deeper into darkness and depression, especially during this time of year.

This pandemic has been going on for nearly a year now forcing many people out of work and soon out of their homes. The government gave us one check in the beginning that was barely enough to cover one month’s rent and grocery bill. How did they expect us to survive all this time with nothing?

And what’s worse is Congress hasn’t made any progress. They are still stuck in the same place they were months ago when negotiations came to a dead stop.

So without any help from the government, Americans are forced to take matters into their own hands.

The coronavirus recession has been a relentless churn of high unemployment and economic uncertainty. The government stimulus that kept millions of Americans from falling into poverty earlier in the pandemic is long gone, and new aid is still a dot on the horizon after months of congressional inaction. Hunger is chronic, at levels not seen in decades.

The result is a growing subset of Americans who are stealing food to survive.

Shoplifting is up markedly since the pandemic began in the spring and at higher levels than in past economic downturns, according to interviews with more than a dozen retailers, security experts and police departments across the country. But what’s distinctive about this trend, experts say, is what’s being taken – more staples like bread, pasta and baby formula.

In Philadelphia, reports of retail theft jumped about 60%, year over year, just after President Donald Trump declared a national emergency in March because of the pandemic. They remained at elevated levels through at least July, according to local police data.

Though shoplifting tends to spike during national crises – it jumped 16% after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks and 34% after the 2008 recession, according to the National Association for Shoplifting Prevention, which tracks data from U.S. courts – the current trend line is skewing even higher, according to Read Hayes, a criminologist at the University of Florida and the director of the Loss Prevention Research Council.

I shudder to think just how much worse things will get as people become more desperate. How bad does it have to get before Congress can do their job and help get America back on its feet?

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