Smash and grab: Group of shoplifters loots San Francisco Neiman Marcus in broad daylight

(AP Photo/Alan Diaz, File)

You didn’t think it was just convenience stores and discount stores that were being targeted there, did you? The droogs would be foolish not to go for the upscale merchandise too, now that shoplifting in San Francisco is de facto legal.

The Bay Area pol who’s been most outspoken about rampant shoplifting is city supervisor (and Democrat) Ahsha Safai. “We lost the flagship Gap in Union Square – if we don’t deal with organized retail crime I fear many other stores will close,” he tweeted this morning in response to the clip above. I count at least nine looters in the clip — the first person who exits may be the tenth, but it’s unclear if that person is absconding with merchandise or just fleeing in panic amid the chaos in the store. Apparently the looters descended on Neiman Marcus shortly before closing (because they expected there’d be fewer customers at that time, maybe?) and began smashing display cases.

I’m thinking there must have been more than nine since there was a reason someone was filming the entrance to the store as the looters exited. Did a few others run out before whoever posted the clip began recording, getting their attention? Or was it the sounds of glass breaking that made them perk up?

Either way, videotaping crimes being committed right in front of you appears to be an unofficial San Francisco pastime nowadays.

Critics have understandably blamed California’s absurd law making theft of $950 or less in goods a misdemeanor for convincing thieves that they can loot with virtual impunity, but it may not apply in this case. Those are handbags they’re racing away with, and a designer bag at Neiman Marcus could run into the four figures. This may be a rare case of shoplifting in San Francisco that’s so lucrative it actually qualifies as a felony. The lesson, I guess, is that if you’re going to brazenly rip off retailers, you’re better off sticking to the downscale chains. There’s less chance of doing hard time if you’re putting Walgreens out of business instead of Neiman Marcus.

Meanwhile, here’s something for you to chew on while we wait for the next viral video of organized shoplifting to emerge: Why does any store in San Francisco employ security guards? What purpose do they serve if they’re not allowed to interfere with shoplifters for fear of a violent confrontation? I put that question to social media this afternoon and the most plausible answer I got back was that having a security guard on the premises reduces the business’s insurance rate, which may make it more cost-effective for them to keep someone on staff than to go guard-less. But that only moves the question back one step — *why* does having a security guard on the premises mean you pay less in insurance if they’re not preventing any thefts? They don’t seem to do anything (in San Fran at least) except record crimes while they’re happening in hopes that the footage can be used to identify a suspect later. But you don’t need a trained guard for that. You can hire some kid who’s good with smartphones and pay him minimum wage to wander around the store and videotape anyone he sees cleaning off a shelf. If security guards are useless it’s bizarre that insurance companies would continue to set premiums based partly on their employment.