Video: San Francisco Target locks up merch as thefts rise

  • Retailers saw a 26.5% increase in organized retail crime in 2021
  • Spokesperson: Target takes "a multi-layered approach to combating theft"
  • TikTok video paints a concerning picture of the perilous state of retail

CHICAGO (NewsNation) — As retail thefts continue to rapidly increase across the country, retailers are left coming up with new ways to prevent shoplifters from stealing merchandise. However, a new viral video has some people up in arms about the steps some owners have taken to stop shoplifting.

While it may be normal to see baby formula or over-the-counter medicines behind plexiglass while browsing the aisles, it’s becoming increasingly common to see items like deodorant, toothpaste and even laundry detergent being locked up as well.

But some retailers are going to extremes to stop shoplifters.

In a video posted to TikTok, there is an entire aisle of locked-up items as far as the eye can see. Everything from shampoo to mouthwash, and even tampons, are locked behind thick plexiglass cabinets at a Target in San Francisco.

A Target spokesperson told NewsNation that the chain takes “a multi-layered approach to combating theft.”

“On a limited basis, we also employ theft-deterrent merchandising strategies, such as locking cases, for categories that are prone to theft,” the statement said.

Still, the video has painted a concerning picture of the perilous state of retail across the U.S.

On average, retailers across the nation saw a 26.5% increase in organized retail crime (ORC) in 2021, according to the National Retail Federation’s 2022 Retail Security Survey.

The survey also found that eight out of 10 retailers reported the violence and aggression associated with ORC incidents also increased within the past year.

The same survey ranked the top 10 areas most affected by ORC. The San Francisco and Oakland area has been ranked as the area second most-affected by ORC for the past two years.

In 2021, Los Angeles was ranked as the top city affected by ORC, and the other three areas in the top five included New York City, Houston and Miami, according to the survey data.

Chicago, Sacramento, Seattle, Atlanta and Dallas-Fort Worth rounded out the top 10 metropolitan areas affected by ORC.

But San Francisco has been hit especially hard by ORC and other crimes. Even Walgreens opted to close five San Francisco stores due to the ORC rate, The New York Post reported.

Rite Aid has also considered upping the ante to stop future thieves.

Its chief retail officer said late last year that the company is looking into putting store merchandise behind showcases to prevent product loss.

The increased ORC rate has also forced some stores to close shops in other cities, too.

Walmart announced it is closing half of its stores in Chicago, citing losses of tens of millions of dollars. And in New York City, one of the Big Apple’s busiest commercial districts has turned to guard dogs to track down shoplifters.

Still, there’s some question as to just how effective these intensive anti-theft measures are, and retailers also have to weigh whether these locked cases will impact their sales.


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