A CVS location in Washington DC was forced to wipe its shelves clean of toilet paper and replace them instead with framed photos of the products amid rising thefts in the country’s capital, according to a report.
If customers need to purchase any toilet paper or paper towels, they must tap a buzzer placed on the bare shelves to summon a store employee to retrieve it from a back room, according to an Instagram post from the account Washingtonian Problems.
Reports of robbery in DC are up by 68% in 2023 compared to last year, Fox Business reported.
More than 3,000 robberies have taken place so far in 2023 — up substantially from 1,791 at this time in 2022, Metropolitan Police Department data shows.
The region has been plagued by a major uptick in smash-and-grab robberies as well, WTOP reported.
Customer Ben Atanga, owner of a wellness studio in Maryland, said that theft of basic necessities is a nationwide problem.
“First, I want to say this: this is not just an H street or a D.C. problem — this is something that’s going on all over the country, right?” Atanga told the outlet as he walked into the store.
“Maybe those are things that we don’t increase or maybe as a community we provide that … ‘Hey look, you can come pick up toiletries and stuff like that, so that you can take care of yourself.’ H Street has always had a huge homeless population,” he added.
Retail stores in major cities nationwide have experienced a surge in thefts, prompting many major stores to lock up their products or even shutter their doors completely.
New York City has seen the sharpest rise in thefts in recent years, with a 64% increase in reported incidents of retail theft during the four-year period between mid-2019 and June of this year, according to the Council on Criminal Justice. Los Angeles experienced a 61% surge over the same time frame.
LA, meanwhile, saw a 109% increase in reported retail theft incidents in the first six months of 2023 — the highest in the country, the report found.
A recent report by the National Retail Federation, a trade group representing US retailers, said that chains had lost $112 billion due to a wave of organized theft rings in New York, San Francisco, LA, and Houston last year — up from $93.9 billion in 2021.
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