Sarah George: let taxpayers reimburse shoplifting losses

By Guy Page

Taxpayers should reimburse businesses for retail theft losses if shoplifters can’t afford to pay, Chittenden County State’s Attorney incumbent Sarah George suggested during a recent candidate debate

George, the George-Soros backed county prosecutor since 2017, faces a primary challenge from lawyer Ted Kenney of Williston. 

At about the 18-minute mark of the July 6 candidate forum sponsored by the Lake Champlain Chamber, the Burlington Business Association, the South Burlington Business Association, and the Vermont Retail and Grocers Association, moderator Stewart Ledbetter of New 5 cited claims of $90 million of losses in Vermont retail theft last year and then asked: “Do you support retailers getting restitution?”

George said court orders requiring thieves to pay restitution simply don’t work. 

“The folks committing the crime have no ability to make restitution. It may ultimately come out of taxes, or something. Other jurisdictions have imposed or created units that will give money back without relying on the person charged. I’m not sure how that would work here, but I think something like that should be helpful…..the businesses should be made whole.” 

Kenney agreed legislation is needed to create a state program offering restitution, but stopped short of specifically recommending taxpayers funding restitution. 

“There needs to be a restitution order in place,” Kenney said. “Unfortunately, a lot of these people don’t have the resources to pay that order. I agree there needs to be a statutory change, and perhaps some sort of program that the state should run.”

Neither George nor Kenney offered further details. A quick online search revealed no published reports about government programs reimbursing retail theft/shoplifting losses. 

Gov. Phil Scott seemed nonplussed at the suggestion that taxpayers should pick up the tab. At his press conference last week, Vermont Daily Chronicle asked: In a recent candidate forum for Chittenden County State’s Attorney, both candidates seemed open to reimbursing retailers for retail tax losses from sources other than the shoplifters, most of whom are indigent drug users. What do you think of the idea of using any state or local government money to make good shoplifting losses? 

“It sounds a bit like a slippery slope,” Scott said. “I’ve never contemplated that. Where do you stop? Is it the obligation of the state to provide for, let’s say, someone stealing catalytic converters at some dealershiop, which I just saw on the news this morning? Would that be the responsibility of the state to reimburse that dealership? Where does it stop, is my point.

“I have a great deal of sympathy for retail theft in particular. It doesn’t seem as though we’re prosecuting many of those, and it may be just because of prioritization,” Scott said. “Is the answer the state or the municipality getting involved in reimbursement? I just haven’t ever contemplated that.”

Retail theft is conducted both on an individual basis, and also by highly organized criminal operations. Nationwide, retail theft is a $69 billion illegal industry. A January, 2022 IRS news report describes one such southeastern U.S. ring:

A ring of “boosters” netted $4.5 million from the sale of stolen merchandise and over-the-counter products to fencing organizations outside of Oklahoma. “Fences” then sold the stolen products through e-commerce sites, like eBay and Amazon.

Normally, fences paid the booster chief half the market value for each item, who, in turn, paid boosters half of her expected profit for each item they brought to her. Financial payments for stolen products were normally made through PayPal, Venmo, and Cash App, and some payments were made with drugs.

The booster chief provided her boosters with a detailed list of items to steal and the pricing she would pay for each. She further instructed her ring on boosting techniques, including box stuffing. Box stuffing occurs when criminals conceal higher-value items inside lower-value item boxes and only paying for the lower-valued items.

Been and her team of boosters allegedly stole products from retailers in Oklahoma, Kansas, Texas, Missouri, Arkansas, and Colorado. Been would pay boosters’ expenses when they traveled outside the state. She would further pay boosters’ bond when arrested so they could continue boosting.

Categories: Crime

33 replies »

  1. Bright as a two watt bulb reasoning. I can not believe what has happened to my state during my years abroad.I just shake my head in total disbelief. It is like observing a long running series of the Twilight Zone.Please vote these people out.

    • Both Kinney and George expect the public to pay the $90 million dollars estimated stolen last year from Vermont merchants. They both claim that it is not fair that shoplifters be expected to reimburse for good stolen when they cannot afford it! How about prison?

  2. Dump her and arrest thieves and put them on a chain gang to work off the debt

  3. Obviously she’s using California’s agenda. I sure hope Chittenden County voters get rid of this looney-toon.

  4. example like Walmart…they can afford security guards or take the loss…..Rich’s had Security Guards, etc. Kids or whomeever paid the price, community service….make them go and clean there restroom, take care of trash, help unlond, etc. many things they can do no matter age….so it save them the money to pay someone else….you play you pay. RIGHT

  5. Ms. George, it is a blessing, in your case, that breathing is a reflex action. Tax payers already pay for retail theft because the loses from retail theft have been included in the sale price.

  6. Fire her! No telling what George Soros will have her do next.

  7. This makes no sense that taxpayers have to pay for reimbursement of retailers’ losses from shoplifting. If it is true that shoplifters are supporting their drug habits by shoplifting, perhaps some of the money recovered from drug raids can be put into a program which can help reimburse crime victims (retailers, victims of violence, etc)

  8. This just proves politicians have no logical thinking. Someone else who isn’t elusive enough from society gets to pay the bills. The public just keeps holding the bag for anyone who likes to fill it up with free stuff.
    I guess politicians feel it’s cheaper than sending thieves to prison? Surely it’s not cheap to do that either. How about the getting rid of the root of the problem… drug dependency. Where is the science on that? You know… how drug use hurts no one but the addict. It actually destroys entire civilizations. Taxes cannot fix society. They merely fund careers for ppl who then raise more taxes to throw gas on fires.

  9. Sarah George feel free to pay it yourself. You can obligate yourself to paying someone’s else’s crimes as much as you want but We The People believe in law and order.

  10. It sounds a bit like a slippery slope,” Scott said.

    Ya think, Governor.

  11. What happened to people having to pay for their crimes? Years ago when we traveled from Vt. to Florida we would see chain gangs all through the south. Like someone else said, there is always community service. I hope people are finally opening their eyes to what these “elected” “selected” individuals have planned for our once great state. Problem is, if we don’t change the way the elections are run, these people will remain there to further destroy us.. They have already started with the voting machines and the mail in ballots that we all know are corrupt. Can’t drain the swamp if we don’t change the way they do the corruption. Too bad they closed down the state hospital in Waterbury.

  12. An insane response. Theft is the responsibility of the thief. Consumers (taxpayers) already get hit because retailers carry insurance, which gets built into retail prices. Greater theft means more costly insurance which means higher prices to consumers. Of course thieves should pay restitution–either directly to the retailers or to the state through community service.

  13. Admittedly, I’m resourceful. Nevertheless, I’ve been quite poor for decades. Homeless a total of about 9 years. I don’t shoplift. This is advocating to reward crime.
    Nor is poverty the only motive for shoplifting. Look at the immigrant man in NYC in jail for defending himself against an attacker who was beating him for refusing to give the attacker’s girlfriend a bag of potato chips, which the poor clerk would have had to pay for out of pocket.

  14. What is her/ their plan to compensate us taxpayers when people like Soros steal our government from us by openly buying seats for prosecutors and Attorneys General?

  15. A progressive response by a SOROS picked incompetent.

    Taxpayers should pick up the tab!?!??…How about : YOU pay all of that tab , Ms Soros??

    Fool, and anyone that votes for her.

  16. Progressives have a universal solution for every problem. Get taxpayers to foot the bill no matter how absurd the situation is. Sarah George is a social crusader and should have been fired long ago. Soros is unapologetically trying to destroy America and its institutions. Even Chittenden County deserves better that her.

  17. Why dont we all go out and steal. If we have to pay anyway. This is absolutely ridicoulous. Great way to teach people crime doesnt pay

  18. This just goes to show that Progressive’s like George have no fear from the Citizens of Vermont. She knows she can’t lose in elections given support she’ll receive from the dopey masses in Vermont. Therefore, George, like other Progressives in Vermont just poke their finger in the eye of Vermont every chance they get. Look for other outrageous ideas from these Marxists that continue to make Vermont more expensive, less safe and more totalitarian with their boldness.

  19. I have a much better idea: Let SARAH GEORGE reimburse all shoplifting losses. Ask your BFF for $$$$, Georgie girl.

  20. Ok no money to pay back? the Work Restitution is a good thing in more than one way; along the way this person (or some of them who for whatever reason outside of drug dealers….which is another catagory) may well build self esteem and find others who value the work ethic, he/she may learn a new way to be…….of course thats not going to work with d-dealers; they all do belong on a chain gang……plenty of infrastructure to work on out here in these parts…this of course will not pay for restitution per-say but I bet a business owner is gonna feel a whole lot better seeing “some consequence to actions”

  21. Awww yes, the hard working taxpayers aren’t burdened enough with government misspending. Perhaps Ms. George (OH, say hi to Mr. Soros for me) take it from her retirement fund.

  22. You have got to be kidding me!. It is bad enough that she won’t prosecute people and insists that the rotating judicial door keep spinning these people back onto the streets – now she wants the people who actually OBEY the laws to pay for the stuff thats been stolen. This is one of her WORST ideas yet – and she has had more than her share of bad ideas. Have her pay – she is one of the reasons the crime is so rampant. How is she still in office? Seriously….. Vermont deserves better.

  23. Make sure we vote her out! Spread this to friends and family. What is wrong with arresting the thieves and have them preform community service if they cannot reimburse the business.? O yes, I forgot, we do not have enough policemen because the city council diminished them.Now no police want to work here.

  24. Let her benefactor George Soros pay for all the losses. If he backs her you know that’s not good for people who follow the laws. Maybe after November Congress can start investigating him. I believe Hungary thew him out and so should we.

  25. Her statement as a proposal is marxist, pure and simple. She regards business owners as greedy and wealthy and those who shoplift as victims of an uncaring society in need of basic goods above and beyond what the meager social service network provides. All Vermont conservatives should seriously consider drawing a democrat primary ballot on Aug. 9 and voting for her opponent, Ted Kenney. That is the best way to be rid of her.