‘Organized retail crime’: Walgreens closes 5 more stores in San Francisco

Shoplifters (KOMO-TV video screenshot)

Walgreens is closing five more San Francisco drug stores amid a spike in “organized retail crime” that has coincided with lax law enforcement.

A referendum that lowered the penalty for stealing goods worth less than $950 from a felony to a misdemeanor has played a big role in the spike, the New York Post reported.

“Organized retail crime continues to be a challenge facing retailers across San Francisco, and we are not immune to that,” Walgreens spokesman Phil Caruso told SFGate.

Meanwhile, more than half of Bay Area residents plan to leave permanently, according to a recent poll reported by The Hill. The biggest reason for leaving cited was the cost of living, particularly housing costs, but 62% cited the quality of life.

A man is caught defecating in the aisle of a Safeway grocery store in San Francisco in December 2019 (Twitter / Deborah Kan)

Walgreens said retail theft in its San Francisco stores has increased in the past few months to five times the chain’s 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,” the company said.

Over the past five years, Walgreens has closed 17 stores in San Francisco.

A member of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors said she is “completely devastated” by the news that five more stores are closing.

“This Walgreens is less than a mile from seven schools and has been a staple for seniors, families and children for decades,” Ahsha Safai tweeted Tuesday.

A Twitter user responded to him with: “Ahsha, this is what happens when you decriminalize shoplifting.”

The Post reported New York City is facing a similar surge in drug store theft. Police Commissioner Dermot Shea blames it on the state’s “disastrous bail reform law.”

Reporters who visited a dozen Walgreens, CVS, Duane Reade and Rite Aid locations found shelves largely barren of many staples.

“They’ve all been stolen,” a CVS employee said.

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