A recent extreme spike in the amount of shoplifting in the San Francisco area has lead to many retailers having to permanently close store doors.
As reported by the San Francisco Chronicle, Many stories such as CVS and Walgreens are being forced to close locations throughout the city due to a rampant and “out of control” shoplifting spree. The news source talked to John Susoeff, a 77-year-old resident of the area, who formerly picked up his medicines from the Walgreens just two blocks from his house. That is until it was forced to close back in March at the start of this ever-worsening rise in shoplifting. The man has now been forced to make the six-block hike to the next nearest place in order to get his medicines. Susoeff, who requires a cane to walk, also takes the time to pick up the medicines for his less mobile neighbors who just cannot make the trek anymore.
“it’s terrible” he exclaimed to the Chronicle, going on to say that almost everything every single item had to be under lock and key before the shop had to finally close its doors.
“I don’t blame them for closing.”
After more investigation, the Chronicle also found another CVS that had been forced to close back in 2019 for similar issues.
The Chronicle stated that the retailed told them the problem is due to apparent organized retail crime:
Retailers attributed a majority of losses to professional thieves instead of opportunistic shoplifters who may be driven by poverty, with one CVS leader calling San Francisco a hub of organized retail crime. Losses have shuttered drugstores providing vital services, even more critical during the pandemic as some stores give out vaccines.
“This has been out of control,” said Supervisor Ahsha Safaí, who held a hearing Thursday with retailers, police, the district attorney and probation departments. “People are scared to go into these stores — seniors, people with disabilities, children. It’s just happening brazenly. We can’t just as a city throw up our hands and say this is OK. We have to come up with solutions.”
This massive wave of shoplifting has lead to the closure of 17 various Walgreens locations throughout the city over the past five years, while still struggling to hold the other 53 still currently open locations.
Regional vice president for pharmacy and retail operations in California and Hawaii for Walgreens, Jason Cunningham, told the outlet that the closing of the stores in the San Francisco area was an “unpopular and difficult decision” but continued on by saying that the theft seen in these stores was over four times higher than the national average. He went on to cement his point by stating that Walgreens was spending over 35 times as much on security guards in the area than anywhere else in the country.
“Professional shoplifters can work the system by stealing items under the threshold from one store and hitting several retailers in the same day. To prosecute, the district attorney has pursued aggregated charges for multiple petty theft incidents by the same person, such as a recent case of stolen scooters. Police said a person could also be charged with possession of stolen property worth more than $950,” reported the Chronicle.