Calif. Mayor Pushes Back on White House Claim Crime Spike Due to Pandemic


OPINION: This article contains commentary which reflects the author's opinion

The Democratic mayor of a California city is clapping back at the Biden White House’s statement that the COVID-19 pandemic is the main cause for skyrocketing crime rates around the country to include, most recently, ‘smash-and-grab’ thefts that are rising in the Golden State.

“I think criminals are at the root of smash-and-grab crimes. And criminals come up with new arrangements every time that we catch them on the old ones and this is just the nature of criminal enforcement,” San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo told Fox News’ “America’s Newsroom.”

Fox News added:


White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Thursday the root cause of the spike in organized retail crime is the COVID-19 pandemic, saying the Biden administration is working with a number of communities across the nation to “crack down” on crime in those neighborhoods.

Smash-and-grab looters have been targeting stores across the nation in recent weeks, robbing retailers of thousands of dollars in merchandise in cities like San Francisco, Los Angeles, Chicago, Seattle, New York, and Minneapolis.

Psaki, during a White House press briefing Thursday, said that President Biden has called for an increase in funding to support local police departments and “ensure that local communities are working in partnership to crack down on crime and any dangers they see in their communities.”

“We’ve also worked with a range of communities across the country on strike forces,” Psaki continued, adding that the administration is “continuing to implement that from the Department of Justice.


“But the president absolutely believes that community police forces can have an important instrumental effect in helping keep communities safe.”

Psaki pointed to guns and the COVID-19 pandemic as “root” causes of the spike in organized retail theft, though in the vast majority of smash-and-grab robberies, firearms are not used.

“One of the root reasons of crime in communities is guns and gun violence, and we’ve seen that statistically around the country,” Psaki claimed, adding that the “root cause in a lot of communities is the pandemic.”


But Liccardo, who is a former prosecutor, noted that the police department hasn’t been defunded in his city and that cops are working to thwart the brash crimes.

“We just got to be more nimble and use technological tools and be able to be smart about how we use our police departments,” Liccardo said.

“Here in San Jose, we don’t defund. We make sure we do all we can to ensure officers are out on the street and we also try to keep guns off the street. This isn’t about Democrat or Republican policies. This is about being smart,” he noted, going on to criticize a state law passed by voters some years ago.

That law, Prop 47, has not been “helpful” in trying to reduce crime, going on to say that many of the thefts in San Jose are being charged as felonies “as they should.”


“The referendum, passed seven years ago, has been widely criticized for effectively giving shoplifters and addicts a green light to commit crimes as long as the merchandise they steal or the drugs they take are less than $950 in value,” Fox News noted.

CBS San Francisco reported that the San Jose City Council just approved a proposal made by Liccardo specifically to combat the mass thefts:

In an effort to combat the spike in retail “smash-mob” robberies plaguing the Bay Area, the San Jose city council has approved spending a portion of federal COVID-19 relief money on license plate readers (LPRs).


The vote to allocate the $250,000 towards LPRs was unanimous and was included as a line item, amongst other expenditures, of $18.3 million dollars of American Rescue Plan Act funds, San Jose received from the Biden Administration.

In a memo, the mayor wrote the LPRs would “enable SJPD to better deter and make arrests in armed ‘smash-mob’ burglaries and robberies, auto thefts, and drive-by shootings.”

“Where culprits are attempting to evade the license plate readers, all the better because that’s a very clear warning, when we see folks covering their license plates, that those are drivers that should be pulled over,” said Liccardo.

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