Representative Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez is facing backlash after suggesting that the recent wave of smash-and-grab robberies plaguing the country is untrue.
Ocasio-Cortez told The Washington Times in an interview last week that "a lot of these allegations of organized retail theft are not actually panning out."
"I believe it's a Walgreens in California cited it, but the data didn’t back it up," she continued.
Following her Walgreens comment, the company told The Washington Times "organized retail crime is one of the top challenges facing" the company and that the issue "has evolved beyond shoplifting and petty theft to the sale of stolen and counterfeit goods online."
Theft at San Francisco Walgreens locations has increased to such a level that the company said they have increased security spending in the city to 46 times what's at the average Walgreens location.
Ocasio-Cortez was blasted by the Retail Industry Leaders Association (RILA), a trade association representing leading retailers, who said she "has no idea what she is talking about."
"Respectfully, the Congresswoman has no idea what she is talking about. Both the data and stack of video evidence makes fairly clear that this is a growing problem in need of solutions," Jason Brewer, RILA senior executive vice president of communications told The Washington Times in an email. "If she is not concerned with organized theft and increasingly violent attacks on retail employees, she should just say that."
Ocasio-Cortez's fellow Representatives also slammed her comments, with Representative Jim Banks saying the remarks are "tone-deaf and offensive" to the family of Kevin Nishita, a former police officer and grandfather of three who was working as a security guard for a news crew covering smash-and-grab robberies in Oakland.
"I don't know what data she is talking about," said Representative Rodney Davis. "But you don't really need much data from someplace in San Francisco or California. All you need to do is walk down the street to the CVS in Eastern Market,” he said, referring to a public market area near the Capitol in Washington DC. “I've seen on multiple occasions when I've been in there buying things, someone will come in and raid a shelf and walk out."
"It's important that people use appropriate words when something is clearly happening," said Representative Darrell Issa. "Law enforcement may have to say 'alleged' because no one has been convicted, but I think people who know better, should use more appropriate words. But she's not known for appropriate words."
Los Angeles Police Chief Michael Moore said on Thursday that 14 suspects have been arrested in connection to 11 smash-and-grab robberies.
He said the suspects "taken into custody are out of custody, either as a result of one juvenile, or the others as a result of bailing out or zero-bail criteria."
"From Nov. 18 to the 28, the city of Los Angeles had 11 of those types of crimes involving similar MO's where groups of suspects working in tandem, worked to steal from high-end clothing stores, often using weapons and physical force to overwhelm and intimidate store employees and other patrons," Chief Moore said.
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