Safeway shoppers at the Castro location were met with a new sight this weekend: automated gates and fencing that were installed to deter shoplifting.
The Safeway store at 2020 Market Street — which has seen its store hours drastically pulled back and shopping carts locked up inside — has seen an increased level of shoplifting over the past two years. And in the latest effort to combat that, some intimidating-looking new barriers and gates have been installed near the store's doors — which were first posted to Reddit last week.
Safeway executives said in a statement published by the Chronicle that the new security measures were a response to what it says is increased theft at the locale.
“Like other local businesses, we are working on ways to curtail escalating theft to ensure the wellbeing of our employees and to foster a welcoming environment for our customers. Their safety remains our top priority,” wrote Wendy Gutshall, director of public and government affairs for Safeway’s Northern California Division, in an email to the newspaper. “These long-planned security improvements were implemented with those goals in mind.”
In October, the Castro’s Safeway store announced that it would shift from operating 24 hours a day to closing early at 9 p.m.; the store is currently the earliest-closing Safeway in all of San Francisco. This decision also came after shopping carts were moved inside the store back in July due to the number of units that were either stolen or went missing.
The added barriers, themselves, are located around the supermarket’s self-checkout area, essentially corralling customers through only one exit; the gates open to allow people leaving the store to pass through them, but quickly close once that person has moved through. Any checkout aisles that aren’t staffed are now blocked with large physical barriers where earlier they were sectioned off simply by loose-hanging cords. And now, too: An entire side entrance to the store has been closed and blocked off by a large display of plastic water bottles, per the Chronicle.
Though it’s unclear as to how effective these automated gates will be at mitigating shoplifting, past reports on the effectiveness of these gates installed like-environments are fairly successful in deterring shoplifting. But regardless of whether or not these barriers help solve the issue, an opinion from one shopper shared to the Chronicle about the recent events at the store rings true: “This Safeway is getting weirder and weirder.”