Sudafed, baby formula, deodorant, and razor blades, together could sound like a Jesse Pinkman shopping list before he found a high school chemistry teacher to help him.
At the same time, since nobody is making retail chains put lock boxes on the deodorant aisle, shrinkage best meets Occam's razor. Or would if it hadn't been shoplifted.
Anyway, to get to my point; turns out I do know fences - basically anyone with an Amazon account, and I know a lot of fuckers with Prime. For the low investment of polyfill bags and other shipping materials, and this one weird trick called stealing, you too can make money online! Just take your stolen goods, send them to Amazon, and they'll take care of selling them for you. All you gotta do is some computer shit, and some packaging, and then send it off to Amazon. Because your supply costs are cheap, you can undercut your competitors (but not by too much) and rake in the profit. Amazon supposedly is cracking down on this but I have yet to see any meaningful evidence of any real enforcement.
The economist article avoids naming names, but what you're looking for to get started is Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA).
We had to call the staff to unlock small pigeon hole after another just to see what was written on the labels.
As always it is not just one thing - the lady that came to help us was in a Hijab and was studying medicine and was helping her parents who immigrated from Turkey and own the operation rights of that store, on thanksgiving eve.
May be I am Old, but I did not mind the locked shelves after meeting her.
This is why I care. Criminals degrade society and we all suffer for their greed.
I was talking to a NYC colleague the other day about how there are trends in favor of not punishing people for certain criminal activity in the city. We were talking about driving with a suspended license, but I asked about shoplifting. She said, "Oh, no. That's on the opposite trend. Not only are they prosecuting it to the maximum, but they just changed the law to make it easier to hold people on bail for shoplifting." She made it clear that shoplifting was never a low priority for prosecution, but now it's a higher one.
I understand that the claim in this article is that aggregators/sellers/fences whatever should be surveilled and prosecuted (more), but just wanted to add this tale from the courthouse and emphasize that the street-level shoplifter will be the target of most policy interventions here, which is the least effective and least humane strategy.
I think it's very fair to have differing attitudes/moral thresholds for an impoverished mother shoplifting a week's worth of baby formula versus "a couple in Alabama [which] pled guilty to shifting $300,000-worth of stolen baby formula on eBay".
My reading of the article suggests that the trend discussed is a result of the latter, which is more recent and problematic, and not the former. Comments here discussing the morality of crime or a desire for policy change are missing this distinction.
Take for example Dove Men+Care antiperspirant. In the US what is a rather compact can 3.8oz/107g was on the shelf at $9.55 (plus sales tax). I've just checked a well known UK chemist (boots) and 150ml of the same brand is £1.70 and 250ml is £2.00 (both including sales tax). Not really sure why the US measure aerosols in g and the UK measures them in ml but the price difference alone is jaw dropping.
Don't post stuff that the rest of us cannot read. I don't want to search for the comment with the archive link to get past the paywall.
If it is paywalled, it should only be discussed behind a paywall. As long as HN is free, anything linked here should be free.
As for the topic, I cannot begin to guess why deoderants are apparently suddenly scarce items. My salt deoderant stick works very well and doesn't require a special license to buy, nor does it require assistance from someone to unlock a case.
The claim is about the time-series comparison, and the rebuttal is about the cross section comparison. Is the journalist in question stupid, gaslighting, or both?
The videos of organized ransacking of stores are honestly insane. The stores are somewhat powerless because of liability, and the new laws that have raised the level in which the law even cares. I don't think the "broken window" policy is the end-all, it has some problems but allowing "small" theft rings does not generally put areas on a good trajectory. These goods are almost always getting 3rd party listed, be it Amazon, eBay, Facebook Marketplace, etc.
Drop a bag of slime on them as they exit? Make the floor slippery as they try to run out? There are smart people working at target; they need to be less shy about protecting their store, which is an American treasure
There is another engine driving this phenomenon: addicts "boosting" to feed their addiction. Drug use is another crime that society seems uninterested in prosecuting or punishing as of late. Add illicitly manufactured Fentanyl (1) to that recipe and you have an absolute onslaught of retail theft.
In interview after interview with addicts, it's clear that boosting is one of the primary methods of funding drug use. (2) If we are not interested in curbing drug trafficking, sales, and abuse, we will continue to have a huge problem with retail theft. (And also an unconscionable death toll that is growing rapidly.)
Given the amount of theft in America, and size of Amazon's American revenue and sales, can we figure out what percentage of Amazon's revenue is generated from fencing stolen goods?
on edit: IIRC AWS is 70%, Ad revenue is half of retail (30%), that means criminal revenue has to be less than 15% and I would think probably significantly less than half of that even. Maybe 2% at most?
on second edit: I wonder if every corporation has a percentage of its revenue that is criminal, like how processed food has a percentage of bug parts. You would think not, initially, but just voicing the idea makes it strangely attractive as a concept.