Target to close stores early in San Francisco due to chronic shoplifting

Normal store hours are 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. They’re cutting back to 6 p.m. because, the company claims, “for more than a month, we’ve been experiencing a significant and alarming rise in theft and security incidents at our San Francisco stores.”

Only a month? Walgreens has closed 17 stores in San Francisco since 2016 because it didn’t pay to keep them open with so many locals taking the five-finger discount. Target’s new policy raises the ominous possibility that the problem is getting worse, which would make sense. With the pandemic all but over in the highly vaccinated Bay Area, more thieves may be out and about lately.

Read this post for background on San Francisco’s problem with shockingly brazen shoplifting. A state law that passed several years ago made it a misdemeanor to steal less than $950 worth of goods, a wrist-slap that’s encouraged repeat offenders. Go figure that three California cities (San Fran, L.A., and Sacramento) are among the top 10 in the United States for organized retail crime. Not all of the theft is organized, of course — sometimes it’s random homeless people or addicts acting alone — but a surprising amount is being driven by rings selling the stolen merchandise on the black market.

And so the cost of doing business in the Bay keeps rising, and not just for Target:

Target has now acknowledged that San Francisco is the only city in America where they have decided to close some stores early because of the escalating retail crime

Target isn’t the only store in San Francisco to make changes because of the continuous shoplifting. After 10 p.m. the 7-Eleven on Drumm St. in the Financial District only does business through a metal door. But first you have to ring the bell to let them know you’re outside.

“This window was installed like two to three months ago because it was not safe. Sometimes they would break that glass of the door,” explained Manager Bobby Singh.

That’s from KGO, which also reports that San Francisco PD has exactly one officer assigned to the organized crime “task force.”

Shoplifting isn’t the only form of theft that locals need to contend with:

SFPD’s Central Station reported auto burglaries skyrocketed 753% in May compared to the same time last year during lockdowns and they’re still up 75% compared to the same period in 2019

“They don’t even care. They tell us what the hell are you going to do,” said [a] tourism operator who did not wish his business to be identified.

One family who did not wish to be identified showed KPIX 5 pictures they took as they witnessed thieves in action just before pulling into a parking lot on Embarcadero and Bay Street.

Visit beautiful San Francisco and take in the sights: The Golden Gate Bridge, Fisherman’s Wharf, and random derelicts doing smash-and-grabs on parked cars in broad daylight. According to a survey conducted by the local chamber of commerce, 70 percent of city residents say their quality of life is down over the past few years and 44 percent say they’re likely to move within the next few.

Mention this subject on social media and progressives will come out of the woodwork to try to convince you that it’s fine or that it’s … not actually happening. At least, not as rampantly as the media hype would have you believe. Crime data compiled by the local PD suggests shoplifting is down since 2019 — but is that because it’s happening less or because some stores aren’t bothering to report it anymore due to inaction by the police and D.A.?

While shoplifting incidents haven’t surged this year or last, the rate of shoplifting incidents ending in citations or arrests did go down — a continuation of a decline that goes back at least as far as January 2018, the earliest month included in SFPD’s detailed incident data.

The San Francisco Police Department did not return a request for comment on the shoplifting data, and why citations and arrest rates are declining. However, in a recent Board of Supervisors meeting, police officers said that shoplifters are getting more brazen, and that shoplifting incidents are likely underreported.

If the shoplifting wave is a figment of our collective febrile imagination, what’s the theory for why Walgreens bugged out of the city and Target is now scaling back hours? If that’s due to economic factors rather than crime — sky-high rents, difficulty hiring — we’d expect many more local businesses besides convenience stores to be reacting similarly. Are they?

It’s possible, I suppose, that the sort of brazen theft customers have repeatedly witnessed in San Francisco convenience stores tells us nothing about how common shoplifting is in the city. San Fran might not have an unusual number of thieves, just an unusually bold cohort of them. But that would defy common sense. A culture in which theft can happen with so much impunity that perpetrators are willing to commit the crime in front of security guards, while bystanders record them on smartphones, is a culture in which we’d expect to see a high rate of shoplifting. If the deterrent to larceny is weak, there’ll be more larceny. Yet lefties assure us that it’s just not so.

Here’s local news reporting on the new Target policy.