Theft-plagued Walgreens closing 5 more San Francisco stores

West

SAN FRANCISCO (NewsNation Now) — Walgreens said Tuesday that it will close five more stores in San Francisco next month because of organized retail theft in another blow to a city that has earned an embarrassing reputation for widespread and brazen shoplifting.

The stores will close down next month, SFGATE reported. It said Walgreens has closed at least 10 stores in the city since the start of 2019.

“Retail theft across our San Francisco stores has continued to increase in the past few months to five times our chain average” despite large increases in security, Walgreens spokesperson Phil Caruso said.

San Francisco Supervisor Ahsha Safai said many of the thefts are part of a larger, organized retail crime effort.

“People are given specific items to target. They go into Walgreens, they go into Target, they go into these places and they look for over-the-counter drugs, they look for cosmetics. Then, they resell them on the secondary market, sometimes at flea markets, sometimes on Amazon and eBay. This is a multi, multi-billion dollar industry,” said Safai.

Last year, Walgreens closed one store where the chain said it was losing $1,000 a day to thefts.

Frustration and fear over thefts have been fueled by widely circulating images of shoplifting caught on video. This summer, shoplifters in masks carrying armfuls of designer handbags sprinted from a downtown Neiman Marcus department store and into getaway cars.

In June, a masked man was caught on video at a Walgreens, stuffing items into a trash bag before cruising out of the store on a bicycle. A suspect was arrested in that theft.

Last month, Mayor London Breed and Police Chief Bill Scott announced that they will dedicate more police, beef up coordination and make it easier to report shoplifters.

The strategy aims to counter thieving that has added to the liberal city’s reputation as being soft on crime.

“We care about criminal justice reform. We care about second chances. We care about making sure that people are not wrongly accused,” Breed in announcing the new measures. “But don’t take our kindness for weakness, our compassion for weakness.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report

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