Is San Francisco a Shoplifters Dream?

Dr. Munr Kazmir
6 min readMay 30

As another major retailer leaves downtown San Francisco, Mayor London Breed continues to downplay the problem.

Photo by Amogh Manjunath on Unsplash.

Shoplifting costs retailers millions of dollars every year.

Of course, retailers don’t just eat the cost of shoplifting shrinkage; they pass it on to customers in the form of higher prices. Retailers take all sorts of measures to remain profitable, even in high-traffic stores and areas where retail theft is a major ongoing concern.

Most retailers focus on preventive measures to deter potential shoplifters, including video monitoring, mirrors, and open store layouts: These design elements increase visibility, making it harder for shoplifters to conceal their actions.

Retailers often utilize security tags or electronic article surveillance (EAS) systems that trigger an alarm if an item is taken without proper deactivation or removal.

Retailers employ loss prevention officers or security personnel who are trained to identify and apprehend shoplifters. Benighted retailers often cooperate with local law enforcement agencies to address shoplifting. They may share surveillance footage or provide detailed incident reports to aid in investigations and prosecutions. Some retailers may also employ off-duty police officers to provide additional security.

None of these measures seem to be working to deter shoplifting in San Francisco, as evidenced by a parade of store closures.

San Francisco Targets Closing Early Due to Rise in Thefts,” reported the NBC Bay Area staff on July 2, 2021.

“For more than a month, we’ve been experiencing a significant and alarming rise in theft and security incidents at our San Francisco stores, similar to reports from other retailers in the area,” said a Target spokesperson via a statement to NBC Bay Area. “Target is engaging local law enforcement, elected officials and community partners to address our concerns. With the safety of our guests, team members and communities as our top priority, we’ve temporarily reduced our operating hours in six San Francisco stores.”

“San Francisco mayor London Breed claims Walgreens is only shutting five stores to cut costs — but pharmacy chain says it spends nearly FIFTY TIMES as much on security…