San Francisco’s Drug Store Anarchy


A pedestrian walks by a Walgreens retailer that’s set to be closed within the coming weeks in San Francisco, Oct. 13.


Justin Sullivan/Getty Photographs

Shoplifters get off straightforward in California, the place stealing items price lower than $950 is a mere misdemeanor—if the crime is prosecuted in any respect. Dangerous actors have taken benefit, and this week Walgreens introduced the closure of 5 San Francisco shops stricken by theft.

Walgreens spokesman

Phil Caruso

says the retailer has employed off-duty cops to protect its San Francisco shops and is spending 46 occasions the chain common on safety within the metropolis. But the San Francisco shops endure theft that’s 5 occasions the common.

Retail theft is so widespread that San Francisco now has its personal style of viral footage of shameless shoplifters. One latest video reveals a person shoveling gadgets off a shelf right into a black rubbish bag, then driving a motorcycle out of the Walgreens on Gough and Fell Streets, now among the many shops scheduled to shut. One other reveals a person dumping handfuls of merchandise into his backpack as he walks the shop aisles.

That is worse than opportunistic theft. “The actual difficulty right here is organized retail crime, by which I imply skilled thieves steal items from retail and are in the end then bought to customers—totally on digital marketplaces,” Mr. Caruso says. In different phrases, legal crews loot shops by design after which promote the stolen items on the black market with out concern of police monitoring them down.

The closures have put San Francisco politicians on the defensive, not that they admit the issue. Mayor


Breed recommended this week that San Francisco’s drugstore market was “saturated,” limiting profitability. Dean Preston, a self-described democratic socialist on the Board of Supervisors, tweeted that Walgreens has “lengthy deliberate to shut a whole bunch of places,” however “media studies have accepted with out evaluation Walgreens’ assertion that it’s closing as a result of retail theft.”

Police knowledge reveals that larcenies are up 7.8% this yr in comparison with the primary 10 months of 2020. Proponents of California’s soft-on-crime insurance policies word that’s nonetheless decrease than 2019 ranges. However these official numbers don’t inform the entire story.

Tracy McCray,

vice chairman of the San Francisco Police Officers Affiliation, informed the Related Press that district lawyer

Chesa Boudin’s

“insistence on dropping or downgrading costs of these caught red-handed” has allowed “these exact same crooks to additional victimize our communities over and over.” In the meantime, companies which have tried to cease the shoplifting have confronted lawsuits or allegations of racial profiling.

Companies are left with a stark selection. Put up with this drug retailer anarchy and theft, or shut down like Walgreens. Cities that tolerate such public dysfunction will get extra of it.

Paul Gigot interviews Dr. Marty Makary. Picture: Related Press

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