Rantz: Downtown Seattle Target barely surviving as shoplifting ravages store

Jan 24, 2022, 6:08 PM

The Target department store in downtown Seattle is being absolutely ravaged by shoplifters, with one staff member telling me theft happens “about every 10 minutes.” He wasn’t kidding.

On a recent trip to the store on 2nd Avenue and Pike Street, I saw staff confront two separate shoplifters within 12 minutes of one another. It’s so bad that it’s not just the Biden administration’s supply chain crisis creating the empty shelves. And it’s so dangerous that customers can now only buy some products online as they’ll likely get mugged on the way out of the store.

“The shelves are empty because we’re not getting shipments. We need the shipments because they keep stealing,” an employee told me.

Shoplifting is out of control

Security staff now stand guard at both entrances to the building. They started this practice after experiencing a rash of shoplifting. Some guards are off-duty or retired police officers.

Homeless men and women flood the Target and steal what they can. In Seattle, they won’t get arrested, booked, or charged for most theft.

Even on a Saturday morning, when the store didn’t have many customers, I was told by a staffer that shoplifting happens “about every 10 minutes” at either side of the store. Guards stop what they can without escalating the situation.

At 11:44 a.m. on Saturday, a man walked off the elevator with what appeared to be household cleaners in his hands. He clearly hadn’t paid since the checkout register on the top floor is at the opposite end of the store. As he walked toward an off-duty Seattle police officer working security, the suspect was stopped.

“No, no, no, give that to me. Give me the spray,” the officer told the man who dropped one item.

The officer was able to collect several of the stolen items, but the suspect appeared to walk out with at least one item.

At 11:56 a.m., on the second floor, I saw a staff member mid-confrontation with a woman. The female suspect was forced to pull stolen clothes from her bag as security watched. Then, security escorted the woman out. She was shouting insults the entire time.

Barren shelves all throughout the store

No matter the section, customers are greeted with empty shelves.

There’s little medicine in stock near the pharmacy. Household goods — from cleaners to spatulas, and towels to soap dishes — are nowhere to be found. Clothing is missing from full aisles, and the electronics department barely displays any product.

A staff member implied the supply chain crisis is impacting this Target since, he said, they’re always awaiting shipment of products.

But he said the situation is dire because shoplifters “keep stealing.” He said it with a sigh, annoyed at what was happening inside his store.

Seattle Target takes more precautions

Consequently, some electronics are kept in the back, instead of on the shelves.

But some items can no longer be sold in person. In the electronics section, a sign informs customers: “For the safety of our guests and team, we are currently not activating pre-paid mobile phones.”

Another sign says customers can’t pick up gaming consoles in store.

“For the safety of our guests the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X consoles are only available for purchase on Target.com and Target App via Order Pickup and Drive Up,” the sign reads.

There’s security near the order pick-up station.

This isn’t organized crime

There’s little doubt that stores across Seattle are victims of organized crime. But Target and other stores in the downtown core of Seattle are dying via death by a thousand homeless-induced cuts.

Stroll around the area, sidestepping tents, used needles, and the zombie-like homeless men and women wasting their lives away in a “progressive” city unwilling to cast any judgment (it’s wrong to judge addicts, we’re told), and you’ll see most retail stores need security stationed at their entrances and exits to keep homeless thieves from taking their products.

Seattle City Attorney Ann Davison ran on a platform of prosecuting these crimes. But between the sheer number of them occurring and a lack of police to even make arrests, there’s only so much she can do.

There’s likely little political will to prosecute the homeless in Seattle, anyway. Target is a big corporation and, thus, considered unworthy of support by Seattle’s elitist progressives who don’t seem to mind the danger and burden their indifference puts on low-income workers.

Downtown Seattle is not vibrant — it’s a third world hellscape of absolute misery; a forgotten part of the city, despite a new mayor who says he will get a handle on things. What is Mayor Bruce Harrell’s plan? Perhaps more press releases and media statements.

Listen to the Jason Rantz Show weekday afternoons from 3–6 pm on KTTH 770 AM (HD Radio 97.3 FM HD-Channel 3). Subscribe to the podcast here. Follow @JasonRantz  on  Twitter,  Instagram, and Facebook. Check back frequently for more news and analysis.

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Rantz: Downtown Seattle Target barely surviving as shoplifting ravages store