Trump claims mobs of 500 people are raiding stores to steal air conditioners



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Former President Trump escalated his claims about rampant crime during a campaign stop Friday, alleging without proof that mobs of crowds are stealing large appliances from department stores en masse without action from law enforcement.

“You go to some of these department stores, 500 people walk into the stores, they walk out with air conditioners — they strip the whole store,” Trump said in a nearly hourlong, off-the-cuff address to Turning Point Action in Arizona while railing against the Biden administration’s policies. “The company goes out of business, the store is vacant for 25 years. The whole city becomes a slum.”

Trump and President Biden will likely meet each other in what’s become a neck and neck rematch of their 2020 election battle when voters head to the polls on Nov. 5. Both have been criss-crossing the country to make the case for why each would be better for the country going forward.

When The Hill asked the Trump campaign for further information on his remarks in Arizona, a spokesperson directed the outlet to news reports of residential HVAC thefts and reports of “pack theft” sprees that have hit cities.

“Thieves keep stealing HVAC units. He might offer them $100 to just ‘go away,'” one news outlet reported on contractors who’ve had multiple components of HVAC units stolen from job sites in Virginia.

“Why stealing an air conditioner is more serious than you’d think,” the campaign sent in a link to another report on residential HVAC unit thefts, this time in Texas.

Trump has heavily leaned into inflation, immigration and crime. He has blamed his successor, Biden, for each of those issues, despite statistics showing a strong economy.

It’s not the first time the former president has cited massive waves of unchecked large appliance thefts from department stores.

He alleged that “gangs of hundreds of young” people regularly “attack” department stores and walk out with “big stuff” like refrigerators and air conditioners, during the NRA-ILA Leadership Forum in Indianapolis last year.

“As an example, when you see these gangs of hundreds of young, usually young people go and attack a department store, department stores in San Francisco and Los Angeles and Chicago, and they run in by the hundreds and they’re running out carrying refrigerators and carrying air conditioners and big stuff,” he said.

Such “pack thefts” as Trump often describes have been associated with smaller but organized crimes targeting pricy cosmetics, designer clothes and other luxury items. Footage of pack thefts targeting smaller retail establishments and pharmacies also has spread across social media on occasion, but experts generally agree that shoplifting is a problem that is often overblown.

Trump’s tough-on-crime rhetoric has been steady even as he was convicted on 34 federal criminal counts last week over business documents allegedly falsified during the 2016 presidential election to cover up an affair with an adult film actor a decade earlier. Trump, 77, is the first former U.S. president in modern history to be convicted on criminal charges. The Democrat-controlled House previously impeached him twice while in office on attempts to influence the 2020 presidential race he lost to Biden and his alleged impact on the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol.

But recent polls have shown his support has taken little damage among his supporters. Some surveyed in recent polls even said they are more likely to support him in this year’s election, and GOP voters in general are reporting they are more likely to support electing people convicted of felonies after Trump’s conviction.

Trump used the opportunity to revive his enigmatic “Make America Great Again” slogan as he’s campaigned for a second term.

“We turned our country around,” Trump said in Arizona. “Now I can use that slogan because our country is a failed nation.”

On his campaign’s launch of Swamp the Vote USA movement to “swamp” or heavily lean into more early, mail in and general voter turnout, Trump acknowledged he’s taken a different view on his old use of “swamp” as he’s embraced the word.

“It’s a different version of the word ‘swamp,'” he said. “We like the word ‘swamp’ because it’s meant so much.”



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