Bay Area/ San Francisco/ Crime & Emergencies
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Published on April 02, 2024
Group of Thieves Loot Walgreens in San Francisco, Police Response Delayed Four HoursSource: Google Street View

Shoppers at a Civic Center Walgreens in San Francisco witnessed a bold daylight robbery on Sunday, as a group of thieves ransacked the store, clearing shelves of goods while employees and customers looked on in dismay. The brazen act of retail theft occurred at approximately 4:30 p.m. on Easter Sunday, at the Walgreens location on 9th and Market Streets, as reported by CBS San Francisco.

According to the station, at least seven individuals decked in hoodies and masks were filmed by a CBS producer, who was shopping with his girlfriend at the moment the incident unfurled. The producer expressed his shock to the station, stating, "End of the day on Easter Sunday should have been pleasant. Instead I was shocked to see looters taking what they pleased with no regard for the law, or those around them, real-life smash and grab." Despite the clear evidence of the crime, San Francisco Police Department's response lagged, arriving approximately four hours later at 8:38 p.m. only to find a shuttered store, as SFist noted.

Community members have voiced their alarm at the deteriorating security within the neighborhood. Dina Miller, a local resident, lamented to CBS San Francisco about the scarcity of shopping options due to repeated incidents: "It's really sad because we don't really have any places to go shop anymore. Everything is closing down… Walgreens are closing down all over the place too." A local security guard, Eric Beverly, also recognized the severity of the situation, attributing store closures to rampant theft. These concerns arise in the context of multiple Walgreens closures in the city since 2019.

Supervisor Matt Dorsey, representative for the district that includes the Civic Center, highlighted the police staffing crisis during an interview with CBS San Francisco. "If we had a fully staffed police department, we could have a robbery unit that was doing more enforcement in places where retail theft plays out, holding more people accountable and doing more to go after the fencing operations that make this lucrative," Dorsey said. He has called for reform and pointed to the need for tougher penalties to deter such crimes, suggesting revisions to Prop 47.

The incident is part of a troubling pattern affecting multiple Bay Area cities, raising the stakes for upcoming public safety hearings by state lawmakers. These hearings will discuss a slew of bills aimed at curtailing retail theft and tackling the fentanyl crisis as part of a legislative effort named "Working Together for a Safer California." One bill specifically targets organized retail crime, proposing heftier penalties for large-scale reselling operations.