A CVS in Washington, D.C. has removed toilet paper from its shelves and instead replaced them with photos of the products.
Customers who wish to purchase toilet paper are met with a note that directs them to press a button in order to have a store associate grab the toilet paper from the back, according to a photo of the sign posted on Instagram by Washingtonian Problems.
“Apparently the CVS on H Street is also having to put their toilet paper in the back to stop it from being stolen,” the account wrote. “Instead they have photos of what’s in stock.”
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Those who were familiar with the situation explained to WTOP that the move by CVS comes as people who have been struggling with homelessness have started taking the items and leaving without paying.
“It seems to be a case that people don’t care about laws or respect that anymore,” Mark Davis, who was visiting the District of Columbia from the United Kingdom told the outlet. Davis added that the U.K has a similar problem as well and has been “seeing shops closing down because they’re losing so much money from people shoplifting.”
To date, robberies in Washington, D.C. are up 68%, according to crime data from the Metropolitan Police Department. Roughly 3,048 robberies have been reported so far this year, an increase from the 1,819 reported in 2022.
Multiple stores throughout the surrounding area have reportedly been victims of smash-and-grab burglaries as well, according to the outlet.
“This is not just an H street or a D.C. problem,” Ben Atanga, the owner of a wellness studio in Maryland told the outlet. “This is something that’s going on all over the country, right?”
Cities such as New York City and Los Angeles have also reported seeing an increase in retail theft.
Between mid-2019 and June of 2023, New York reported a 64% increase in shoplifting, while Los Angeles reported a 61% increase during the same period, according to the Council on Criminal Justice.