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Walgreens Exiting San Francisco Amid Retail Crime Wave

Organized theft and a recent law change are to blame, the national drugstore chain says.

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The Walgreens on Powell Street is one of 10 remaining stores the retailer now operates in San Francisco.

Walgreens is steadily closing the doors of its San Francisco locations due to an ever-worsening crime wave, according to a host of news outlets that have jumped on the hot topic.

The coverage follows a report by the San Francisco Chronicle that cited city supervisor Ahsha Safai, who characterized the problem as having “spun out of control.”

At a recent meeting of the city’s board of supervisors, Walgreens representatives said they have closed 17 of its locations within San Francisco during the past five years specifically due to uncontrollable theft. According to Walgreens’ website, the retailer has just 10 locations remaining in the city.

Organized theft was highlighted during the meeting for its outsized impact in the area, according to The New York Times. The director of corporate investigations for CVS called the city one of the “epicenters of organized retail crime.” Indeed, a San Francisco theft ring holding about $8 million in stolen merchandise was busted last fall.

At the meeting, Walgreens reps and law enforcement also pointed to Proposition 47, a 2014 measure that reduced nonviolent thefts of less than $950 from felonies to misdemeanors. That has precipitated an increase in theft beyond San Francisco, according to the Public Policy Institute of California, which published a study that found statewide larceny has risen by 9 percent since the new law was enacted.

Safai told the NYT that thieves now feel emboldened, who “are obviously choosing locales based on what the consequences are. If there are no consequences for their actions, then you invite the behavior.”

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Read more at the San Francisco Chronicle.

 

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