Walgreens, the second-largest pharmacy chain in the United States with nearly 9,000 outlets, will close five stores in San Francisco due to what the company called “organized retail crime.”
CNN has reported that San Francisco has experienced a surge of crime as the COVID-19 outbreak has subsided and tourism has begun to return.
“Organized retail crime continues to be a challenge facing retailers across San Francisco, and we are not immune to that,” said Walgreens spokesperson Phil Caruso, according to SF Gate. “Retail theft across our San Francisco stores has continued to increase in the past few months to five times our chain 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.”
Surveillance video and other recordings that have been shared on the internet show people burglarizing numerous stores in several cities, with neither the police nor security intervening to stop them.
Walgreens closed a location on Van Ness Avenue in San Francisco a year ago after the store was losing $1,000 a day in stolen merchandise, the San Francisco Chronicle reported.
The five locations spread throughout the city, will start closing on Nov. 8 with the last to close on Nov. 17, including one on Mission Street. Ahsha Safai, who represents District 11 on the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, was incredulous that this store was closing.
“I am completely devastated by this news — this Walgreens is less than a mile from seven schools and has been a staple for seniors, families and children for decades. This closure will significantly impact this community,” SF Gate quoted Safai as saying.
Safai added that the Mission Street store was closing even after adding an off-duty police officer as security in recent months. He said the company told him shoplifting was having an impact on the company's bottom line and affecting the safety of its employees and customers.
"This is a sad day for San Francisco," he said. "We can't continue to let these anchor institutions close that so many people rely on."
Under California law, property theft of less than $950 is considered a nonviolent misdemeanor.
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