Target and other retailers say they've lost hundreds of millions of dollars to "organized theft," they're now turning to facial recognition technology to catch repeat offenders, or closing shop altogether.
Houston reported a seven percent rise in theft last year, back to pre-pandemic levels, and it's not alone.
Retired Las Vegas police Lt. Randy Sutton says organized crime rings have become more bold following the defund police movement.
"Oakland. You're seeing it in San Francisco. You're seeing it New York. Big box stores are just throwing their hands up and saying forget it. We can't do it anymore," says Sutton.
Walmart is currently closing its remaining stores in Portland. Walgreens already has shuttered more than a dozen locations in San Francisco.
"When these stores simply run away because it just isn't profitable anymore because of the crime, who is it that is really facing the consequences?" he asks.
"It's the innocent people. It's the people who are being victimized by the same thugs that are terrorizing their neighborhoods."
Crime Stoppers' Andy Kahan has advocated for stiffer penalties.
"They're labeled non-violent so they get in and out of jail," he told KTRH News. "Even if they are caught. Even if they are convicted. They're not going to get a lengthy prison sentence."
The felony theft threshold in Texas remains $2,500 or more.