A young employee at a Los Angeles Rite Aid was killed Wednesday night while attempting to stop a shoplifter from leaving the store as crime rates skyrocket across the country following funding and resource cuts to law enforcement.
The victim has been identified as Miguel Penaloza by ABC 7 and was in his 20’s according to the Los Angeles Police Department.
Penaloza allegedly approached two shoplifters around 8:45 p.m. at a Rite Aid in Glassell Park as they attempted to exit the store with their stolen goods. Upon confrontation, one of the perpetrators opened fire on the employee, the Los Angeles Police Department told Fox News.
The suspects fled on foot and Penaloza died at the scene according to the LAPD. Unfortunately, they don’t appear to have many more details at this time. There has been no description released of the suspects, no arrests have been made, and a spokesperson for the LAPD said as of Friday, they were unsure whether or not the Rite Aid had a security guard on-site that evening.
One of Penaloza’s friends and former coworkers told ABC 7 that he did not feel safe working at the Rite Aid and was planning to leave the job soon, already giving his notice.
“I was the closing supervisor and we always had people coming in — stealing liquor and beer, beer runs and, unfortunately, at times there was only two of us,” David Cruz said to ABC 7.
Others echoed Cruz, saying security is an issue that they hope to address to prevent future tragedies.
In San Francisco, officials told Fox News that thefts were down this week despite the barrage of footage showing robberies in the act. One video showed a suspect filling a garbage bag full of items from a Walgreens store and fleeing on bicycle as employees and customers recorded him. Another video showed ten people snatching designer purses from a Neiman Marcus in San Francisco’s Union Square while getaway cars waited for them.
“Those videos are not just going viral in San Francisco, they’re going viral all over the world, but what’s not going viral… is the fact that in almost every single instance our police department have arrested many of the people in these particular crimes,” San Francisco Mayor London Breed told reporters during a press conference this week.
Two CVS locations were closed in San Francisco after 85 percent of their losses were discovered to be a result of professional crime, one employee told Fox News.
Los Angeles ranks number one in the nation for organized retail crime according to the National Retail Federation.
CVS and Walgreens employees in San Francisco are trained to watch for, but not confront shoplifters. This approach does not seem to be working, evidenced by the employees who have been attacked, forcing some retail locations to hire off-duty police officers.
“Retailers are investing millions to fight these crimes, but they need more help from law enforcement and, most of all, they need tougher laws that recognize the difference between petty shoplifting and professional crime for profit,” Mark Mathews, NRF Vice President for Research Development and Industry Analysis advised last year according to a Fox News report.
Meanwhile, the FBI, which tracks statistics on homicides in large cities, reported that homicide rates were up more than 30 percent on average last year and another 24 percent at the beginning of 2021. The statistics for this year will not be released in entirety until September, but the trends are not promising.
Fox News reached out to the Rite Aid location and corporate offices for comment but had reportedly not heard back as of this writing.
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