Walgreens Says Shoplifting Has Forced It to Close SF Stores

5 more outlets in city will close next month
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 14, 2021 10:10 AM CDT
Walgreens Blames 'Organized Retail Crime' for SF Store Closures
Shoppers are seen in front of a Walgreens in San Francisco.   (AP Photo/Ben Margot, File)

Walgreens says it's closing five more of its stores in San Francisco because of "organized retail crime," bringing the number of closures in recent years to 22—almost a third of its stores in the city. The chain says its San Francisco stores have been targeted by rings of professional thieves who resell the shoplifted items online, the New York Times reports. Walgreens spokesperson Phil Caruso says theft at its San Francisco stores has "continued to increase in the past few months to five times our chain average," despite the fact that it has increased security "to 46 times our chain average in an effort to provide a safe environment."

The five stores will close next month, and Walgreens says it plans to relocate employees to other outlets. San Francisco Supervisor Ahsha Safai said he was "completely devastated" by news that a Mission Street store was closing, SFGate reports. "This Walgreens is less than a mile from seven schools and has been a staple for seniors, families and children for decades," he tweeted. "This closure will significantly impact this community." CVS, describing San Francisco as "the epicenter of organized retail crime," closed two stores earlier this year. Walgreens says one store that closed last year was losing $1,000 a day to theft.

The Walgreens outlets being closed include a store where a man was caught on camera in June filling a trash bag with items and riding his bike out of the store. Last month, Mayor London Breed and Police Chief Bill Scott announced measures to counter shoplifting, the AP reports. They rejected accusations that the city is soft on crime. "Don't take our kindness for weakness, our compassion for weakness," Breed said. (Read more shoplifting stories.)

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