“With the safety of our guests, team members, and communities as our top priority, we’ve temporarily reduced our operating hours in six San Francisco stores,” a Target spokesperson said in a statement on Friday.
The six locations will now close at 6pm instead of 10pm, and will open at 9am, instead of between 7 and 8am. In its statement, the company was clear about why it cut down the hours.
“For more than a month, we’ve been experiencing a significant and alarming rise in theft and security incidents at our San Francisco stores, similar to reports from other retailers in the area,” the big box store said. “Target is engaging local law enforcement, elected officials and community partners to address our concerns.”
San Francisco has suffered a massive rise in shoplifting in recent years, particularly since the coronavirus pandemic began. According to the California Retailers Association, the Bay Area metropolis is the fifth worst city in the country for retail theft.
Rachel Michelin, the Association’s president, said she understood Target’s decision to reduce some stores’ hours.
“I wasn’t surprised, because we’ve seen other retailers close in San Francisco,” Ms Michelin told KPIX. “I’m actually proud of the fact that they are trying to hold on and keep the stores open.”
And Target is not alone. In May, Walgreens closed 17 of its stores because the stealing was so out of control. CVS has called the city “one of the epicenters of organized retail crime.”
“We’ve had incidents where our security officers are assaulted on a pretty regular basis in San Francisco,” Brendan Dugan, head of CVS’ retail crime division, said at a 13 May hearing with city officials.
Police agree that the stealing has become endemic.
“The one trend we are seeing is more violence and escalating – and much more bold,” Commander Raj Vaswani of the San Francisco Police Department said at the hearing. “We see a lot of repeat offenders.”
Even more shocking is the fact that many shoplifters then sell their stolen goods on the street – often not far from the store where they stole them.
For example, the Walgreens at 30th St and Mission St reported 16 shoplifting incidents from November 2020 to February 2021. Just six blocks away, at 24th St and Mission, a city official said he saw Walgreens’ products being sold at an outdoor market.
“Half of Walgreens was on the sidewalk. I’m not kidding,” Ahsha Safaí, a member of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, told The New York Times. “I was blown away. I’ve never seen anything like it in this city.”
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