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Thursday, October 21, 2021

Walgreens to Close 5 Stores in San Francisco, Citing ‘Organized’ Shoplifting

A security guard and a television reporter were recording him, but the thief was uncontrollable, raiding a Walgreens store in San Francisco on a bicycle, a garbage bag full of stolen goods in hand.

millions of views A video of shameless shoplifting In June, Joe critics said an epidemic of store thefts had plagued retailers across the city. Officials said it was at least the fifth time that a man later arrested for burglary and theft had targeted that particular Walgreens store on Gough Street in the Hayes Valley neighborhood.

Now, four months later, Walgreens says it will close that store and four others in San Francisco next month in what the city describes as a continuing problem of “organized” shoplifting.

“Organized retail crime continues to be a challenge facing retailers in San Francisco,” Walgreens spokesman Phil Caruso said in an email Wednesday. “Retail theft in our San Francisco stores has been increasing by five times our chain average over the past few months.”

Walgreens said its San Francisco store was targeted by professional thieves, who primarily resell stolen goods through online marketplaces. The San Francisco Chronicle reports that law enforcement officers have blamed the city’s retail crime for rings of organized theft.

In addition to stores at 300 Gough Street, Walgreens closing locations are at 2550 Ocean Avenue; 4645 Mission Street; 745 Clement Street; and 3400 Cesar Chavez Street, the company said.

Representatives for Walgreens previously said in a board of supervisors hearing in May that it had closed 17 stores, mainly because thefts made doing business at those locations untenable.

Ahsha Safai, member of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors said on twitter The closing of the Walgreens store at 4645 Mission Street on Tuesday will leave a tremendous void.

“I am absolutely devastated by this news – this Walgreens is less than a mile from seven schools and has been a prime location for seniors, families and children for decades,” Mr. Safai said. “The city needs to act with a sense of urgency to reduce and prevent the number of incidents of commercial retail theft,” he said.

Walgreens said it has increased its “investment in security measures” at its San Francisco stores to “46 times our chain average in an effort to provide a safer environment.”

The office of San Francisco Mayor London Breed did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Wednesday.

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A spokeswoman for San Francisco District Attorney Chesa Boudin said in an email Wednesday that, in addition to prosecuting shoplifting cases, the office was working with the California Highway Patrol and ALTO, an organization that addresses retail theft. works to do.

“Our office takes retail theft very seriously and we have taken several steps over the past year to better prevent and prosecute these crimes,” said spokeswoman Sarah Yusuf. “Last year, our Retail Theft Taskforce worked with law enforcement partners in an operation that led to the recovery of more than $8 million in stolen items.”

Ms Yusuf said the city was making progress in preventing such thefts.

“While the burglary rate in San Francisco is lower than in 2019, District Attorney Boudin is committed to working every day to make San Francisco even more secure,” she said.

A spokesman for the San Francisco Police Department referred questions related to the matter to Walgreens.

The closure, which is scheduled for November, will bring the number of Walgreens stores that have closed in San Francisco in recent years to 22, according to the company. As The Chronicle reports, Walgreens has more than 50 stores in the city.

Walgreens disclosed in an August 2019 filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission that it would be closing 200 locations in the United States as part of a cost-savings initiative.

The company said the five San Francisco stores that are closing next month will continue to operate at other Walgreens locations, and customers will have their prescriptions transferred to nearby stores.

On June 19, the San Francisco Police Department said it had Man arrested in shoplifting video Which was recorded at the Walgreens location on Gough Street. Investigators said they linked the 40-year-old man, Jean Lugo-Romero, to the thefts of merchants from the Northern and Mission districts.

Officials said Mr Lugo-Romero faces charges of robbery and theft in relation to five separate occasions in which he targeted a Walgreens store on Gough Street, including four consecutive days in late May and early June. Were.

It was not immediately clear whether Mr. Lugo-Romero had a lawyer. The San Francisco Public Defender’s office in San Francisco did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Wednesday.

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