Walgreens Closing 5 More San Francisco Stores Over ‘Organized’ Thefts

By Jack Phillips
Jack Phillips
Jack Phillips
Breaking News Reporter
Jack Phillips is a breaking news reporter at The Epoch Times based in New York.
October 13, 2021 Updated: October 13, 2021

Walgreens said Tuesday that it will be closing five more San Francisco locations due to the rampant, organized theft across the city.

“Due to ongoing organized retail crime, we have made the difficult decision to close five stores across San Francisco,” a Walgreens spokesperson Phil Caruso said in a statement to news outlets. “Each store will transfer prescriptions to a nearby Walgreens location within a mile radius and we expect to place the stores’ team members in other nearby locations.”

The firm has already closed down more than 10 of its San Francisco locations since 2019, according to local media.

San Francisco Supervisor Ahsha Safai also confirmed the closure, saying that the loss of a store on Mission Street downtown is significant.

The Mission Street store that “has been a staple for seniors, families, and children for decades,” Safai said. “This is a sad day for San Francisco,” he wrote in a Twitter post. “We can’t continue to let these anchor institutions close that so many people rely on.”

Walgreens said the closures were triggered by “organized retail crime” that has impacted retailers across San Francisco.

“Retail theft across our San Francisco stores has continued to increase in the past few months to five times our chain average,” Caruso said. “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.”

Shoplifters in San Francisco have been emboldened by a statewide referendum that lowered the penalty for stealing goods worth less than $950 from a felony to a misdemeanor.

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.

San Francisco Police Chief William Scott earlier this year suggested that California’s Proposition 47, which voters passed in 2014 lowering the criminal penalties, is being exploited by crime rings.

“Some people calculate, ‘Hey, you know, I don’t want to go over the $950, so let me steal $949 worth of property,'” Scott said in an interview in July.

“If it’s a felony, our officers can take action,” he continued to say. “But if it’s a misdemeanor, that arrest has to be a private person’s arrest. And that makes a difference because they have to be willing to do that.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Jack Phillips
Jack Phillips
Breaking News Reporter
Jack Phillips is a breaking news reporter at The Epoch Times based in New York.