Theft from stores costs all of us $2 billion a year

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An employee monitors security cameras at Wal-Mart in Joliet in 2002.

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Proponents of legislation to raise the retail theft felony threshold claim it would save the state money, decrease jail populations and keep first time offenders out of prison. But what they won’t acknowledge is stealing is far from a victimless crime and costs retailers a projected $2 billion annually.

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Proponents argue that stealing from stores is based on need. But 80 percent of thieves have the money to pay for the item(s) they were attempting to steal, which frequently include high end vacuum cleaners, GPS devises, and liquor. These commonly stolen items show retail theft is more correctly labeled as a crime of opportunity, and is one that enables organized shoplifting groups, which are often part of larger criminal organizations.

According to the FBI, retail theft has increased 17 percent over the last five years and the value of items stolen has increased by 30 percent. Additionally, the state has lost out on $100 million in sales tax revenue due to retail theft and municipalities have lost out on $25 million. An increase to the threshold would only make matters worse and also force municipalities to reallocate resources away from important programs in order to combat increased retail theft.

Allowing thieves to steal more by increasing the felony threshold will bring about many losers. There is only one group that would win — thieves who would receive the green light to steal more.

Rob Karr, president and CEO,

Illinois Retail Merchants Association

War on coal miners

Little do Donald Trump supporters realize that his “ending the war on coal” is the “beginning of the war on coal miners.”

Most coal industry regulation are safety regulations to protect the miners.

Sure, if you remove those pesky regulations the miners may make more money.

But then they’ll have to spend that extra money going back to buying bird cages and canaries to check for gas and for treatments for black lung disease.

Ask elderly and retired coal miners what working conditions were like before these regulations were put in place. If you can find any still alive.

Jim Tomczyk, Forest Glen

Rauner’s blame strategy

Et tu, Phil Kadner? After reading your opinion in the April 2nd edition of the Sun-Times, I am shocked that you would fall for Gov. Bruce Rauner’s shift the blame strategy.

The state of Illinois is definitely worse off since Rauner was elected governor.

His break-the-state campaign has affected the most vulnerable in our society.

Please explain to me how running the state like a business involves not having a budget and not paying the state’s bills.

David Berkey, Elgin

Prophetic statement

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. (AP Photo)

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. (AP Photo)

Fifty years ago as of Tuesday, Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. broke with the civil rights leadership and condemned the war in Vietnam in one of the most prophetic statements in American history. He began, “A time comes when silence is betrayal, and that moment has come for me.” He knew the consequences. The next day some 200 editorials across the country “screamed their displeasure” in the words of the event’s organizer, Rev. Richard Fernandez.

King saw that this war leading our nation to “spiritual death.” It is a shockingly relevant statement today with transparent parallels. While he saw the Poverty Program “broken and eviscerated” by money diverted to war-making, we see today that $2 trillion spent in our wars in Afghanistan and Iraq in the last 15 years would have rebuilt our roads and bridges AND restored quality to our schools AND paid for health care for all of our people AND reduced taxes AND restored our space program AND fed the hungry AND more!

When King pleaded for ending violence on our streets, the crowds yelled out, “what about Vietnam,” and he knew he could “never again raise my voice against the violence of the oppressed in the ghettos” without confronting the violence of our own country in Vietnam. How can we deal with exploding gun violence in this metropolis by the lake when our youth see American drones and bombs and bloodshed across the Middle East?

Finally, King spoke for the victims on all sides of the conflict, especially our own poor and minorities. “We were taking the black young men who had been crippled by our society and sending them 8,000 miles away to guarantee liberties in Southeast Asia which our young men had not found in Southwest Georgia and East Harlem.” Today we are producing an enormous number of crippled veterans, with serious wounds and mental disorders and alarming rates of drug use, broken families, suicide. Not to mention the tens of thousands of innocent women and children and aged and men across the Middle East and in Africa.

Dr. King spoke for a “revolution of values” in which our loyalties are not to a nation, or America first, but to the global family, a world-wide fellowship of sisters and brothers, the “beloved community.” He would have opposed walls and bans and insisted on welcoming all people. His vision is a helpful counterweight to the fear and misinformation and bigotry that seems to be leading the way today. King offers us another way. To paraphrase him, “The long arc of history bends toward justice and peace for all. So may it be.

Rev. Martin Deppe, Ravenswood Manor

Salvo against free internet

President Donald Trump is expected to sign legislation recently passed by Congress that changes the rules for internet privacy. This new legislation will allow internet service providers to amass and to sell information about an individual’s search and viewing habits. There is also a fear that the FBI will now have unfettered power to search every American’s internet trail. Apple recently fought vehemently against giving up the codes protecting their customers’ iPhones against outside intrusion, even in the event of a threat to public safety.

I recently got an email from my internet security company. I already pay to have protection for my internet. Now I am going to have to pay more if I want to protect my privacy from corporate greed.

I now see the motive behind the Republicans and their assault on internet privacy. Their corporate sponsors want to sell us even more services meant to protect the privacy that was legislated before, for free.

This is, I fear, just the first salvo in the war against a free internet.

Karen Wagner, Rolling Meadows

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