Walgreens has announced that it will close a further five stores in San Francisco due to the ongoing organized retail crime problem that has been plaguing the city since the beginning of last year. The drugstore chain has already shuttered at least ten San Francisco area stores in response to the problem.
When Walgreens closed a store on Van Ness Avenue in October 2020 due to a spike in crime, the San Francisco Chronicle reported that the store was seeing up to $1000 worth of merchandise being stolen each day. A law that was passed in the state in 2014 saw the theft of goods worth less than $950 being classified as a nonviolent misdemeanor. Although thieves could face up to six months in prison, most offenders are being released and continuing to steal.
The latest stores to be closed are situated on Ocean Avenue, Clement Street, Mission Street, Cesar Chavez Street and Gough Street. The company says that it is hoping it will be able to relocate the employees who worked at these stores to some of their other locations. They also plan to transfer people’s prescriptions to nearby locations.
In a statement, 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. “
“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.”
Videos of brazen shoplifters show how desperate the situation has become
In the last few months, social media has been flooded with videos depicting brazen acts of shoplifting taking place in broad daylight at San Francisco area drugstores in the presence of security guards who are essentially powerless to take action. While Inside Edition was filming a segment about the crime problem in one drugstore, a man was seen boldly jumping across the front counter to steal goods from the store.
Another video showed a masked man packing items up into a garbage bags and fleeing a Walgreens store on a bicycle. Some shoppers have reported witnessing clerks being verbally assaulted and not being able to do anything about it. Some have reported the store’s policy is to not get involved, and thieves take advantage of this and simply enter the store and take whatever they want without paying. Although Walgreens has not disclosed their store security policies, Caruso has said that their top concern is the safety of their team members and customers.
This summer, the California Retailer’s Association reported that the cities of San Francisco, Los Angeles and Sacramento were reporting the nation’s highest levels of organized retail crime.
It’s an unfortunate situation that is going to hit many residents hard. San Francisco Board of Supervisors member Ahsha Safai tweeted that one of the affected Walgreens is situated less than a mile from seven schools and has been considered a community staple for children, families and senior citizens for decades. These closures are particularly challenging for elderly patients who do not have access to vehicles and will now have to travel further to get their prescriptions filled.
Living conditions are continuing to go downhill in liberal-run San Francisco, which used to be a vibrant and relatively safe city that attracted tourists from around the world. These days, the streets are littered with human feces and encampments for homeless people while those travelers who are still brave enough to venture there are facing a rise in attacks and robberies targeting tourists.
A poll released this summer found that 70 percent of San Francisco residents believe their city’s quality of life has declined.
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