Walgreens Closes Five Bay Area Stores amid Shoplifting Surge

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - FEBRUARY 09: A Walgreens signage is seen on a storefront window in the Flatbush neighborhood of Brooklyn on February 09, 2021 in New York City. Uber and Walgreens announced today a partnership to offer free rides in communities of color to vaccination sites. the coronavirus …
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The ongoing shoplifting surge has forced Walgreens to close five more San Francisco stores as local law enforcement continues to do next to nothing to curtail the problem.

In a statement to SF Gate, Walgreens spokesman Phil Caruso confirmed “organized retail crime” has strangled San Francisco stores.

“Organized retail crime continues to be a challenge facing retailers across San Francisco, and we are not immune to that,” Caruso said. “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,” he added.

Asha Safai, San Francisco Board of Supervisor for District 11 admitted to feeling “devastated” over the closure a Walgreens store that has “been a staple for seniors, families and children for decades.”

“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,” he tweeted.

Safai told SFGate that the shoplifting had crippled the store’s bottom-line and endangered the staff and customers to an unhealthy degree.

“This is a sad day for San Francisco,” Safai said. “We can’t continue to let these anchor institutions close that so many people rely on.”

Shoplifting has skyrocketed in San Francisco recently, likely a result of Proposition 47, which dictates stealing would not be a felony in California if the item stolen did not exceed $950.

The damage has been felt across a range of business outlets.

In May of this year, The San Francisco News described the situation as being “out of control,” noting that 17 Walgreens have had to close in the past five years due to rampant shoplifting in the city.

17 Walgreen locations in San Francisco have closed their doors within the last five years according to a report from the SF Chronicle. Ten of these closures transpired from 2019 to this year with the last Walgreens store to close its door as of this writing, back on March 17. The cause of the closures is due to rampant shoplifting and looting that has transpired at Walgreen locations in the city believed to be perpetuated by an organized crime ring.

On Thursday, May 13 a hearing was held by the Board of Supervisors with retailers, the SFPD, the district attorney’s office, and probation departments. Brendan Dugan, director of organized retail crime and corporate investigations, believes that San Francisco is at the center of organized retail crime. He brought up a state bust in the Bay Area from last year in which $8 million in stolen merchandise was confiscated from five suspects. The merchandise came from CVS, Target and Walgreens stores from all across San Francisco.

The lack of enforcement made shoplifters so nonchalant and casual they would often steal in broad daylight while awestruck customers documented the crime on their iPhones, allowing for some viral internet moments.


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