Due to increased organized retail crime, five San Francisco Walgreens are closing. San Francisco has seen spikes in retail crimes over the past few months, and Walgreens reported retail theft increasing five times the chain’s average.
Walgreens spokesperson Phil Caruso said, “Organized retail crime continues to be a challenge facing retailers across San Francisco, and we are not immune to that.” Since the beginning of 2019, Walgreens has closed at least 10 of its stores in San Francisco.
For the last several months, Walgreens has invested in more security to protect their stores and keep shoppers and employees safe. They increased their investments in security to 46 times their chain average. The Mission street store had hired an off-duty police officer to patrol the store, but it was “too little, too late.”
The store was losing too much revenue to stay open. The store also struggled with the safety of customers and employees, despite efforts.
I am completely devastated by this news – this Walgreens is less than a mile from seven schools and has been a staple for seniors, families and children for decades. This closure will significantly impact this community.
— Ahsha Safai 安世輝 (@Ahsha_Safai) October 12, 2021
San Francisco board supervisor Ahsa Safai tweeted, “I am completely devastated by this news — this Walgreens is less than a mile from seven schools and has been a staple for seniors, families, and children for decades. This closure will significantly impact this community.”
The Walgreens location on Van Ness avenue closed in October 2020 after losing up to $1,000 per day in stolen merchandise.
In 2014, California passed a referendum that downgraded property theft to a non-violent misdemeanor, so long as the amount is less than $950. This has caused criminals to steal from stores in broad daylight, with no fear of severe repercussions.
In October 2020, while Inside Edition was filming a segment on shoplifting, a criminal brazenly stole items in front of the crew. He left on his own accord with an electric scooter. A Walgreens customer told SF Gate, “I feel sorry for the clerks. They are regularly being verbally assaulted. The clerks say there is nothing they can do. They say Walgreens’ policy is to not get involved.”
The California Retail Association reported this summer that Sacramento and Los Angeles have some of the highest organized crime in the U.S.
According to KTVU, “[Ahsa]Safai introduced legislation that would amend the city’s administrative code to allow sheriff’s deputies to contract with businesses, private events, and community benefits districts to provide security.”
The private companies would pay the security overtime benefits without using taxpayer money. San Francisco Mayor Breed proposed a new initiative to increase retired officers’ presence to patrol neighborhoods.