San Francisco Mayor Denies Walgreens Stores Closing Because of Crime

Breed declines to acknowledge unpleasant reality wrought by AB109 and Prop 47

By Katy Grimes, California Globe

San Francisco Mayor London Breed began pushing back this week against Walgreens’ announcement to close five more stores across San Francisco due to rampant retail theft. Now the San Francisco media is helping the Mayor “sell” her agenda.

The San Francisco Chronicle reported:


Data released by the San Francisco Police Department does not support the explanation announced by Walgreens that it is closing five stores because of organized, rampant retail theft.


One of the stores set to close, on Ocean Avenue, had only seven reported shoplifting incidents this year and a total of 23 since 2018, the data showed. While not all shoplifting incidents are reported to police, the five stores slated to close had fewer than two recorded shoplifting incidents a month on average since 2018.

At least the Chronicle admitted that not all shoplifting incidents are reported to police. Of course they aren’t, and retail merchants tell everyone this. Anything valued at less than $950 is only a misdemeanor in California, thanks to Gov. Brown and state lawmakers who pushed and passed a number of initiatives that gutted the criminal justice system including AB 109 which weakened parole, Proposition 47 which downgraded a host of crimes – including theft under $950 – to misdemeanors, and Proposition 57 which made dangerous felons eligible for release when they have served just a portion of their sentences.

Walgreens was unequivocal in a press statement this week, about the level of crime their stores have endured, as the Globe reported:

According to Walgreens, theft levels in the city went up to 5 times the national average for the store while security measures went up by 46 times the chain average to maintain security for both the store and shoppers.

“Organized retail crime continues to be a challenge facing retailers across San Francisco, and we are not immune to that,” Walgreens spokesperson Phil Caruso said on Tuesday. “Retail theft across our San Francisco stores has continued to increase in the past few months to five times our chain average. During this time to help combat this issue, we increased our investments in security measures in stores across the city to 46 times our chain average in an effort to provide a safe environment.”

“Due to ongoing organized retail crime, we have made the difficult decision to close five stores across San Francisco. Each store will transfer prescriptions to a nearby Walgreens location within a mile radius and we expect to place the stores’ team members in other nearby locations.”

Earlier this year Target announced it would close six of its San Francisco locations  in order to cut down on what has become rampant shoplifting, the Independent reported.

And in May, Walgreens announced that it had closed 17 stores of its Bay Area stores with shoplifting and theft so out of control. “That decision came after one store – located at 30th and Mission Streets – had 16 major shoplifting incidents between November of 2020 and February of 2021,” the Independent reported.

There is no accounting for all of the unnoticed, unreported theft occurring in the stores until inventory is done.

“But the timing of Walgreens’ decision led observers to wonder whether a $140 billion company was using an unsubstantiated narrative of unchecked shoplifting to obscure other possible factors in its decision,” the Chronicle reported.

“They are saying (shoplifting is) the primary reason, but I also think when a place is not generating revenue, and when they’re saturated — S.F. has a lot of Walgreens locations all over the city — so I do think that there are other factors that come into play,” Mayor London Breed told reporters last week.

The Chronicle says four years ago, Walgreens told shareholders it planned to close 600 stores nationwide.

If Walgreen’s stores were profitable in San Francisco, they wouldn’t be closing five more, totaling 22 closures – whatever the reason. Walgreens never announced which stores would be closed. That is an economic decision.

“So is Walgreens closing stores because of theft or because of a pre-existing business plan to cut costs and increase profits by consolidating stores and shifting customers to online purchases?” San Francisco Supervisor Dean Preston asked on Twitter, again denying the rampant crime.

A Walgreens spokesperson told San Francisco’s KPIX 5 Wednesday night that those (cost) cuts were already completed before the new San Francisco closures were announced.

The Power of Denial is palpable. Denial is a psychological defense mechanism that can lead to real and lasting devastation. Denial is the refusal to acknowledge the existence of an unpleasant reality.

Welcome to San Francisco.


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