Plastic Bag Ban Spawns Widespread Shoplifting

Seattle grocers say they have lost thousands of dollars in merchandise in the eight months since the plastic bag ban was enacted.

That's because shoplifters enter stores with reusable bags, which makes it pretty darn easy to conceal the items they pilfer.

"Across the United States we have seen these bag bans, and the shoplifting has always had a substantial leap," said Jan Gee, president of the Washington Food Industry Association, "and so it was not a surprise to us."

Mike Hope, who runs the Lake City Grocery Outlet, told Seattle that he's lost at least $5,000 in produce and between $3,000 and $4,000 in frozen food since the ban began last July.

"We've never lost that much before," said Duke.

Although most stores have security cameras, it is difficult to tell what a customer has paid for and what they may already have brought with them.

A courtesy clerk at Metropolitan Market on Lower Queen Anne -- who asked not to be named -- said he's seem a number of transients who "come walking in with stuff in their (reusable) bags, put a few things in there, and walk out. It happens a lot."

The PI reports that according to data released in January by Seattle Public Utilities, 21.1 percent of business owners surveyed said increased shoplifting because of the plastic bag ban was a problem.

Results of another survey released in January - one done by an environmental advocacy group that found the ban "popular and successful" - didn't mention the problem of shoplifting.

We at the Daily Weekly rather miss those plastic bags. Click here to read Matt Driscoll's whimsical ode.

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