The number of stores closing in and around San Francisco lately has grown to the point where constituents are complaining to elected officials about the lack of places to shop for essential items, particularly food and prescription drugs. Another store that the Castro district of the City by the Bay relies on heavily isn’t closing yet, but the formerly 24-hour Safeway store there has now significantly reduced its hours of operation. The reason given by the management is the same that we’ve heard from Rite Aid and Walgreens, among others. Organized bands of shoplifters are showing up, particularly after dark, and picking the shelves clean. Knowing that they probably won’t be caught and won’t face more than an hour or two in custody if they are, the thieves help themselves and disappear into the night. So now we’re hearing residents complaining about the lack of places to shop in addition to the empty shelves. (CBS San Francisco)
The Castro Safeway on Market and Church Streets was open 24 hours, but that’s not the case any longer. Signs posted on its entrance state its new hours are 6 am to 9 pm, effective October 24.
Many shoppers were surprised to find that the Safeway they frequent at off-hours is cutting back.
“I feel like it’s definitely an inconvenience, not everybody can make it to the supermarket between those hours, so it’s a little frustrating, especially for me personally. I like to shop later on,” said Chris Rankins, who lives in the Castro.
San Francisco Supervisor Rafael Mandelman has been getting an earful from his constituents and has been reaching out to attempt to find a resolution, but there don’t seem to be any easy answers. He’s trying to arrange a meeting between the store, the local police, and the district attorney. “I think like a lot of retailers they’ve been experiencing increasing property crime and theft from their stores,” he said.
That may be a tidy summary of the problem but it doesn’t really suggest any sort of solution. Mandelman said that the store’s management complained to him that even when they do call the police immediately, they almost never arrest anyone if it’s “just for property crimes.”
And why would the cops waste their time arresting the looters? Thanks to recent changes to California state laws, property theft of less than $950 worth of merchandise is a very low-level misdemeanor. Anyone picked up for it will not have to put up bail and they receive little more than a fine if they manage to be convicted. It’s all because cash bail and high fines are racist, you see.
When one of these organized gangs shows up at Safeway or any other targeted outlets, groups of people run in and begin emptying the shelves of items that are easily sold on the streets such as diapers, baby formula, and toiletries. If a squad car with two cops in it shows up, they simply scatter to the wind with their goods. Even if the police manage to detain two of them, they will be back on the streets before the ink is dry on their summons and everyone else will get away with their ill-gotten gains.
If Supervisor Mandelman and the Safeway manager want to have a meeting with someone, perhaps they should schedule a hearing in front of the state legislature. Those are the people responsible for decriminalizing theft and ending cash bail, all in the name of “combatting racism.” If there were any serious penalties for conspiring to commit theft on a large scale, including significant prison time, you’d see these types of mass attacks slowing down almost immediately. But with the elimination of law and order comes an increase in lawlessness. That’s just the way the world works.