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SAN FRANCISCO, CA – According to reports, shoplifters have been coordinating their efforts and going on rampant crime sprees in New York City, California, and elsewhere in the country, often seeing multiple thieves grabbing merchandise and making for the door, only to turn around and flip their ill-gotten gains online or actually bringing them back to the store for credit.
San Francisco is currently an epicenter of this phenomenon, with multiple stores taking steps to secure their goods and keep their employees safe; at least five Target stores – reporting a huge increase in theft – are now closing at 6 p.m. instead of 10 p.m., with criminals making no attempt to hide their activities, even in the presence of security guards.
“Target is engaging local law enforcement, elected officials and community partners to address our concerns,” a Target spokesperson said. “With the safety of our guests, team members and communities as our top priority, we’ve temporarily reduced our operating hours in five San Francisco stores.”
H&M, Gap, Marshalls and Walgreens have also reported a huge uptick in stolen good and security issues. Walgreens – which has closed 17 area stores in San Francisco recently due to this issue – reports that theft in their Bay area stores is four times higher than anywhere else in the United States, forcing them to spend 35 times more on security.
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A viral video is sums up the situation in San Francisco perfectly- a group of thieves are seen practically pouring out of the front doors of a Neiman Marcus in Union Square, all clutching expensive designer handbags; all of them jumped into a series of waiting getaway cars and made good on their escape. Reportedly they had smashed multiple glass display cases inside the store and frightened customers while on their “shopping” spree.
One possible explanation for this brazen activity is the fact that California recently increased the value of stolen goods to qualify for a felony from $450 to $950; according to San Francisco Police Chief William Scott, shoplifters are specifically stealing just enough at a time to fall below this threshold, knowing that police will not make an arrest for a mere misdemeanor theft.
Amid the rampant crime, financial losses for retail stores, threats to employees, and a lack of support for police among local left-leaning politicians, California Retailers Association President Rachel Michelin has called for something to be done.
“Security guards are there to observe and report. They’re not there to stop crime. That’s law enforcement. We have to figure out a way in San Francisco for law enforcement and local officials to work together,” she said.