Why is shoplifting so bad in San Francisco? is a question that has been asked many times. The answer to this question lies within the city’s drug store anarchy.
In San Francisco on Oct. 13, a pedestrian passes by a Walgreens shop that will shut in the coming weeks.
Getty Images/Jonathan Sullivan
In California, shoplifters get off easy because stealing items worth less than $950 is just a misdemeanor—if the offense is punished at all. Bad actors have taken advantage, and Walgreens announced the closure of five theft-plagued shops in San Francisco this week.
According to Walgreens spokesperson Phil Caruso, the company has recruited off-duty police officers to protect its San Francisco locations and is spending 46 times the chain’s average on security. Despite this, San Francisco shops experience five times the national average in terms of theft.
Retail theft is so common in San Francisco that it has spawned its own subculture of shameless shoplifters. A guy can be seen in a recent video scooping things off a shelf into a black trash bag and then pedaling his bike out of the Walgreens on Gough and Fell Streets, which is one of the shops set to shut. Another shows a guy walking around the shop aisles, putting handfuls of goods into his bag.
This is much worse than petty stealing. “The actual problem here is organized retail crime,” Mr. Caruso says, referring to professional thieves who take items from stores and then sell them to customers, mainly on digital marketplaces. To put it another way, criminal gangs rob businesses on purpose and then sell the stolen items on the black market without fear of being apprehended by the authorities.
San Francisco officials have been placed on the defensive as a result of the closures, not that they acknowledge it. Mayor London Breed said last week that the pharmacy industry in San Francisco was “saturated,” restricting profits. Walgreens has “long intended to shut hundreds of stores,” according to Dean Preston, a self-described democratic socialist on the Board of Supervisors, but “media stories have accepted Walgreens’ claim that it’s closing due to retail theft without examination.”
Larcenies are up 7.8% this year compared to the first ten months of 2020, according to police statistics. Proponents of California’s soft-on-crime policies point out that this is still lower than the previous year’s figures. These official figures, however, do not convey the full picture.
The Associated Press reported that district attorney Chesa Boudin’s “insistence on dropping or downgrading charges of those caught red-handed” has allowed “those very same crooks to further victimize our communities over and over again,” according to Tracy McCray, vice president of the San Francisco Police Officers Association. In the meanwhile, companies that have attempted to curb shoplifting have been sued or accused of racial profiling.
Businesses are faced with a difficult decision. Put up with the chaos and thievery at the drugstore, or shut down like Walgreens. Cities that allow this kind of public disturbance will see an increase in it.
Dr. Marty Makary is interviewed by Paul Gigot. Associated Press photo
Dow Jones & Company, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Copyright 2021 Dow Jones & Company, Inc. 87990cbe856818d5eddac44c7b1cdeb8
San Francisco has been experiencing a drug store anarchy. Stores have been looted and people are stealing products from the shelves. Reference: san francisco looting 2021.
- san francisco closing
- san francisco da shoplifting
- san francisco petty theft
- san francisco looting walgreens
- shoplifting in san francisco inside edition