Walgreens is closing five more of its stores in San Francisco as an "organized retail crime" wave sweeps the Bay Area, according to a company spokesman.
"Organized retail crime continues to be a challenge facing retailers across San Francisco, and we are not immune to that," Walgreens spokesman Phil Caruso told SFGate. "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."
Cops and prosecutors have blamed the retail crime surge on lightened sentencing. A 2014 city referendum reduced the charges for stealing goods worth less than $950 from a felony to a misdemeanor. Under the leadership of progressive District Attorney Chesa Boudin (D.), the city in Jan. 2020 abolished cash bail.
Boudin is the son of Weather Underground members David Gilbert and Kathy Boudin, who were convicted for murdering two police officers and one security guard in a 1981 armored vehicle robbery. Kathy Boudin was released from prison in 2003 after serving a 20-year sentence for felony murder. Disgraced former New York governor Andrew Cuomo (D.) commuted Gilbert's sentence as one of his last actions in office, reducing the time served by 35 years. Gilbert is eligible to seek parole as of this month.
The California Retailers Association listed San Francisco as among the top 10 U.S. cities suffering a retail crime uptick. The retail chain Target has said the city is the only location in America in which they close their stores early because of crime. Walgreens has closed 17 stores in the Bay Area in the last five years, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.
San Francisco mayor London Breed (D.) in July 2020 announced the city will cut its police budget by $120 million over the next two years and redirect funds to prioritize "investments in the African-American community."
The New York Post reported a similar retail crime spike in New York City, where a record-high 3,709 retail theft complaints were recorded in August. Former New York City police commissioner Dermot Shea has blamed the spike on lax bail reform laws, which rarely prosecute looters and let them walk free the same day.