California Stores Closing Early As Unpunished Theft Explodes

California Stores Closing Early As Unpunished Theft Explodes

Amid an ongoing nationwide crime surge, Target and Walgreens locations in various California cities are struggling to combat the rise in retail theft. Their latest approach is just to shorten the amount of time they keep their doors open.

Los Angeles has the worst rates of retail theft in the country, according to the California Retailers Association, with San Francisco coming in fifth. Sacramento also experiences severe rates of organized retail theft, placing it within the top 10 worst cities.

Now, Target stores in San Francisco are shortening their hours, opening at 9 a.m. and closing at 6 p.m., instead of opening at 7 or 8 a.m. and staying open until 10 p.m. as other locations typically do. 

One Target spokesman told KPIX5 that the increase in theft informed the store’s decision to shorten its hours, saying, “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.” 

Meanwhile, Walgreens has reportedly closed multiple stores in response to the surge in retail theft.

This has been a problem going on for years,” CEO and president of the California Retailers Association Rachel Michelin said in a statement. “We have been diligently trying to find solutions to this including pending legislation to continue funding for the Organized Retail Task Force. We are trying to attack it from all different ways. Our priority is the safety of our employees and consumers. We can’t have our security guards going after this — they are not law enforcement.” 

Michelin also noted the organized nature of many of these crimes, saying, “ORC rings are recruiting juveniles, homeless to steal items and turn around into bigger crimes like human trafficking. That is what we are trying to stop. It’s a growing problem in our stores, online marketplaces and communities and we need elected officials and law enforcement to help the retail industry fight this issue.”

Security guard Kevin Greathouse, who works at a San Francisco Walgreens, told ABC 7 News that a thief threatened him with a knife. Though Greathouse carries pepper spray, a taser, and a handgun, he has been instructed not to physically apprehend criminals.

“It’s going to be lawsuits, obviously they don’t want ourselves or anybody else to get injured while we’re out here attempting to make these apprehensions and leave it to law enforcement,” said Greathouse. “I don’t have any intention of getting stabbed for $60 worth of stuff.”

Spencer Lindquist is an intern at the Federalist and a senior at Pepperdine University where he studies Political Science and Rhetoric and Leadership and serves as Pepperdine’s College Republicans President and the Chief of Staff of the California College Republicans. You can follow him on Twitter @SpencerLndqst and reach him at [email protected]
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