Walgreens will close five additional San Francisco stores, a company spokesperson confirmed Tuesday, citing ongoing organized retail crime as the reason. Walgreens has closed at least 10 stores in the city since the beginning of 2019.
In October 2020, Walgreens closed their store at 790 Van Ness Ave. as a result of a spike in crime. According to the San Francisco Chronicle, the store had up to $1,000 of merchandise stolen every single day. Due to a California law passed in 2014, the theft of less than $950 in goods is classified as a nonviolent misdemeanor and penalized as such.
The stores closing are located at 2250 Ocean Ave, 4645 Mission Street, 745 Clement Street, 300 Gough Street and 3400 Cesar Chavez Street. Walgreens is hoping to relocate employees from the shuttered stores to other locations.
Walgreens spokesperson Phil Caruso said in a statement announcing the closures, "Due to ongoing organized retail crime, we have made the difficult decision to close five stores across San Francisco. Each store will transfer prescriptions to a nearby Walgreens location within a mile radius and we expect to place the stores’ team members in other nearby locations."
Caruso added, "Organized retail crime continues to be a challenge facing retailers across San Francisco, and we are not immune to that. 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."
San Francisco Board of Supervisor Ahsha Safai wrote on Twitter that he was "devastated" by the loss of the store on Mission Street. “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.”
The California Retailers Association reported over the summer that San Francisco, Los Angeles and Sacramento have some of the highest rates of organized retail crime in the US.
Multiple videos have gone viral on social media showcasing the rampant shoplifting in broad daylight, in the presence of security guards who are powerless to act.
While filming a segment about the spiking crime in the drugstore, Inside Edition recorded a man jumping over the front counter in order to steal goods from the store.