The thief stole a garbage bag full of items from the shelves of the Walgreens store on Gough and Fell Streets in San Francisco. An ABC reporter, security guard, and another bystander also caught the robbery on camera.
The security guard tried to grab the bag, but the thief rode off with it on a bicycle. The video later went viral.
California Proposition 47 is often blamed for the increase in shoplifting. It reduced penalties for thefts under $950.
“It’s been about the last year and a half where it started to get really bad and I think it started with the election of this current district attorney and the message that has been sent by him, the dog-whistling to the criminals that certain laws will not be enforced. And we see it now coming to fruition where people can walk into stores like this and just rob the stores and take whatever they want and not have to pay for it,” Joseph Alioto Veronese, a civil rights attorney, told NTD Television.
Security guards are often told to stand down to avoid injuring anyone or inviting lawsuits against the store they are working at.
“Unfortunately, there’s zero confidence from the police to the district attorney’s office. They’re not doing their jobs because they’re fearing that they’re going to get hurt, they’re not going to take the risk that they used to take anymore, they’re checking in and they’re leaving at the end of the day,” Veronese said. “And unfortunately, it’s the citizens of San Francisco that end up suffering because we have such a broken system.”
San Francisco district attorney Chesa Boudin is often called out for not doing enough. Locals are working to recall Boudin.
“You’ve got people that are in cars, in vans, pull up outside of a store, convenience store, a chain pharmacy, and fill up their bags, fill up duffel bags, as we saw in this video that we were referencing,” Richie Greenberg, organizer of Recall Chesa Boudin 2021, told NTD Television. “This guy on a bicycle came in and filled up a big black trash bag, as much as he could, probably was worth more than $950, but no one’s really going to go and check.”
Greenberg has also seen this kind of looting happen first-hand back in February.
“There was an obvious, disheveled gentleman that was in there and he was loading up his arms with Valentine’s Day boxes of candy that are heart-shaped. And he grabbed as much as he could and he ran out around the same time I was exiting as well and came right past me,” Greenberg said.
He said there was a security guard there trying to deter the man. The thief dropped everything on the sidewalk, spoiling the merchandise.
The DA has been facing a recall since March. The recall effort needs 51,000 signatures by August 11. As of now, it has surpassed 35,000.
“Every time that there is a heinous crime, every time that there is something like what we’re talking about now, this video from the chain stores, Walgreens, we see an uptick [in signatures], we see a spike,” Greenberg said.
Last month, Supervisor Ahsha Safai held a hearing called Commercial Shoplifting in Neighborhood Small Businesses and Anchor Stores. During the hearing, Walgreens and CVS reported high levels of organized retail theft in San Francisco. A CVS representative called San Francisco the “Epicenter of Organized Retail Theft,” and indicated that it accounted for 85 percent of the company’s profit loss.
In the past five years, 17 Walgreens stores have closed down due to rampant looting and organized shoplifting.
Neither Walgreens nor the city’s DA office responded to a request for comments.