Some Stores With Plastic Bag Bans See Shoplifting Spike

Image: Customers of Ralphs supermarket use plastic bags to carry their groceries home in Glendale, California.
Some stores say a ban on plastic shopping bags is causing a surge in shoplifting.Kevork Djansezian / Getty Images File

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The effort to go green by banning plastic bags is costing some stores quite a bit of green. "It is increasing shoplifting," said Mark Arabo, president and CEO of the Neighborhood Market Association, a group of 2,400 small markets in the West. "We've received hundreds of phone calls from our members saying that once these plastic bag bans have been enacted, shoplifting has increased in our markets." Several large cities in California, including Los Angeles and San Francisco, have banned the use of plastic bags in grocery stores, and the legislature there is considering a ban for the state. Arabo says customers are hiding items in reusable bags. "Frozen food items, health and beauty items, and when they get to the cashier, they are actually arguing with them and saying, 'I actually brought this in with me,' and the store has to check the (surveillance) tape." The Los Angeles Daily News reports one Rite Aid manager claims its weekly theft rate has at least doubled to almost $1,000. The National Retail Federation and the California Retail Association said they hadn't noticed a connection.


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