‘People Are Scared To Go Into These Stores’: Shoplifting Is Plaguing Residents, Stores In San Francisco

Daily Caller, senate fillibuster

ANDREW TRUNSKY CONTRIBUTOR

  • Shoplifters are targeting stores across San Francisco at higher rates, officials say, with thieves frequently stealing in front of security and the onlookers filming them before casually walking out with their items. 
  • One video shows a shoplifter in a local Walgreens putting stolen goods in a black garbage bag, even as a security guard and two onlookers record while standing in the same aisle. Another incident from October shows a shoplifter jumping over a counter to steal an air mattress, before leisurely scootering out of the store.
  • “People are scared to go into these stores: seniors, people with disabilities, children,” said Ahsha Safai, who sits on San Francisco’s board of supervisors. “And it’s happening brazenly. We can’t just as a city throw up our hands and say this is OK.”

Shoplifters are targeting stores across San Francisco at higher rates, officials say, with thieves frequently stealing in front of security and the onlookers filming them before casually walking out with their items. 

One video captured June 14 by a local Bay Area reporter showed a shoplifter in a local Walgreens putting stolen goods in a black garbage bag, even as a security guard and two onlookers record while standing in the same aisle. Another video from October shows a shoplifter jumping over a Walgreens counter to steal an air mattress, before leisurely scootering out of the store as bystanders watch.

Many retail executives, police officers and city officials have attributed the surge to Proposition 47, a 2014 ballot measure that reclassified nonviolent larceny as a misdemeanor so long as the value of the goods stolen was less than $950.

During a virtual board of supervisors hearing in May, representatives for some of the nation’s largest drug store chains stressed how bad the increase in shoplifting has become. Representatives from Walgreens said that it had closed 17 stores in the area due to increased shoplifting, and that incidents occurred in its San Francisco stores at a rate four times higher than its national average.

Brendan Dugan, who leads the retail crime division at CVS Health, said the California city was “one of the epicenters of organized retail crime” and that CVS employees were instructed to not pursuit thieves for their own safety.

“We’ve had incidents where our security officers are assaulted on a pretty regular basis in San Francisco,” Dugan said during the hearing.

Ahsha Safai, one of the board’s members, said San Francisco’s shoplifting situation was “out of control” during the hearing.

“People are scared to go into these stores: seniors, people with disabilities, children,” he said. “And it’s happening brazenly. We can’t just as a city throw up our hands and say this is OK.”

Commander Raj Vaswani, who leads the San Francisco Police Department’s investigations bureau, said that the jump in shoplifting is also leading to higher rates of violence as a result.

“The one trend we are seeing is more violence and escalating – and much more bold” he said. “We see a lot of repeat offenders.”

Additionally, just 2.8% of larceny crimes this year have been solved, according to SFPD data, even as it shows overall crime decreasing in the city compared to the same period last year. Larceny crimes since March, when Walgreens announced numerous store closings in the Bay Area, are up nearly 22% compared to last year as well.

San Francisco Mayor London Breed told CNN affiliate KGO that “some of the Walgreens and CVSes sadly have been hit hard,” and called for more police officers to combat the problem.

“Ultimately we do need more police officers,” she said. “Not because we’re trying to have a significant force, it’s more so because we have people retiring or leaving. And it’s important to make sure that we have the sufficient staff to walk the beat.”

“All the things that are constantly asked of us from people in communities that they want police officers, they want them out there walking the beat,” she added. “That’s how you get to know the residents that you serve.”

Representatives for Walgreens and CVS did not immediately respond to interview requests.


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William Hicks

Frisco…..The New Detroit.

C E Voigtsberger

Herb Caen, a columnist for the San Francisco Examiner back in the 50s and 60s loved SF with all his heart. He must be spinning in his grave. Of course, in the 50s and early 60s SF really was a magical city. Perhaps I was too naive to see the warts, ulcers and open sores.

C E Voigtsberger

Hey, the Peepul spoke. Appropriating stuff worth less than a thou should not be a crime. It is just reparations for suppression and discrimination and all kinds of bad stuff inflicted on minorities by white racists. You think that is bad, wait until the Peepuls Republic of Kallyforniay starts handing out “reparations” money to folks whose ancestors 150+ years ago might have been slaves. I will be interested to see if Kammy Harris gets in line to collect reparations seeing as how her ancestors owned slaves.

It’s funny in a way. Marines going home on boot camp leave at MCRD Parris Island, South Carolina integrated bus stops and cafeterias all along the route back north from MCRD to points north of the Mason-Dixon line. This was in the mid 50s before MLKJR got started. It didn’t matter what color skin a Marine wore, as long as he also wore Marine Corps green he was just like every other Marine. Nobody said a word to any Marine in the groups traveling north. Marines of every color used the “Whites Only” toilets and water fountains. Marines of all colors were served equally at the lunch counters. It was amazing how money managed to erase segregation long before MLKJR, LBJ and the Great Society.

Overall crime down in SF? ? ? I think Mark Twain is quoted as saying “There are lies, damned lies and statistics.” I think “Figures don’t lie but liars figure” is also attributed to him. Police statistics are kept by the cops. What they show is what the chief wants them to show.

Let me give you an example. Cops find a dead body with a knife sticking out of its chest. What have we here? First degree murder? Maybe. Second degree murder? Possibly. Voluntary manslaughter? Could be. Involuntary manslaughter? Yes, that is possible too. No crime at all as the killing was self-defense? A stretch maybe but still could fit that classification. What the beat cops record it as depends on several things. It could depend upon evidence gathered. It could depend upon how the cops view the evidence. It most likely depends upon what the chief is trying to tell his bosses, the Mayer and the city council about crime rates in his city. Wants a bigger budget? Crime is up. Getting a lot of heat about perceived crime? Crime statistics show that crime is really down.

When the C.O.P. of LA was under fire for high crime in LA — What, is that something new? The LA Times did a study of some crimes. They found among other things that a body discovered as I mentioned above was listed by the coroner as “Cause of Death Undetermined.”

Well, yeah, the guy could have died from exposure laying out all night with knife in his chest. Could have died from exsanguination. This was before CoVD, so obviously he didn’t die of CoVD. Could have had a heart attack, a la the Russian version of heart attack in the Stalin era, a 9 mm bullet to the heart usually results in heart failure. Thus a knife to the heart results in heart failure.

There were other blatant examples of obvious crimes that were listed as other causes enough to cause a minor, soon suppressed outcry.

So, over all crime down in SF with tens of thousands of felons released from prison, with the definition of a violent crime being redefined to such things as shooting at a cop and not hitting him is not a violent crime. It only becomes a violent crime if the felon actually hits the cop. Bad marksmanship is rewarded. This last is from my understanding of what has happened. I haven’t actually read the written determination, assuming it has been reduced to writing.

One only needs to read how many felons on the release program have been re-arrested in this county to get a grasp of the early release program effect on over all crime. Perhaps SF is not counting those as additional crimes.

You know, figure don’t lie etc etc etc.

Keko K

They’re doing the same thing to Target stores. I’ve seen it done at the store on Geary. People walk in with a backpack filled with stuff and causally walk out, backpacks full. Change the law to $250 or more as a felony and prosecute these criminals. Petty theft with priors should be mandatory prison time. Then I bet this crime would cease and eventually, stop.

C. Collier

Petty theft with a prior used to be chargeable as a felony, as long as the criminal had served even a day in jail for the prior theft. ahhh, the good old days when things were still actually against the law in the Peoples’ Republic.

Michael A...

I have a former resident of SF, a liberal progressive, guesting in my house right now and he FINALLY acknowledges things have gotten bad in SF. It’s taken a lot of degradation to arrive at that conclusion however.

George Pattone

Liberal progressives don’t evaluate situations from a rational perspective, only an emotional one…
Therefore, it takes them longer to understand what’s happening around them…
Rush was right…