In a rapidly consumed digital era, a 14-second clip can sometimes speak louder than a thousand words. One such video featuring US Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (AOC) swiftly amassed over 1.5 million views within hours of its upload.
The brief snippet captures AOC articulating a poignant sentiment: “They are put in a position where they feel like they need to shoplift some bread or go hungry that night”.
Desperation or Delinquency?
Delving deeper into her statement, AOC draws a direct correlation between the growing crime rate and the economic strain faced by many Americans.
She proffers, “Do we think this has to do with the fact that there’s record unemployment in the United States right now? The fact that people are at a level of economic desperation that we have not seen since the Great Recession?”
There is no denying that in challenging economic climates, difficult choices are thrust upon individuals. The agony of seeing a loved one go hungry might drive some to commit acts they would never otherwise contemplate.
AOC on why people loot (2020):
“They are put in a position where they feel like they need to shoplift some bread or go hungry that night”.
But does this grim reality hold true for all acts of theft? Consider a recent incident in Philadelphia. An Apple Store fell prey to a group that swarmed in and swiftly pocketed numerous iPhone 15s. Their intent? Likely a swift resale or personal use.
Yet, it seems their calculations missed the evident possibility of these high-end gadgets being tracked. True to form, Apple's security systems kicked in, rendering all the looted devices useless. But the climax of this caper? The culprits brazenly live-streamed their antics to a whopping 180,000 followers, even advocating for similar heists.
When confronted, one of the young women involved remarked, "I just prefer, you know, never loot again, stay out of trouble, never go to jail”. A statement that, while reflective of regret, also hints at a motivation quite distinct from desperate necessity.
A Complex Web of Accountability
This dichotomy of incidents throws up a pressing question: Are acts of theft predominantly driven by genuine need or the lure of easy gains? And where does accountability lie? While AOC sheds light on genuine concerns about economic hardship and desperation, episodes like the Apple Store raid emphasize that there are individuals who exploit lax enforcement.
Is the onus on the state to tighten regulations, or is it the individual's responsibility to uphold moral integrity?