San Francisco b8ta branch closes down amid rising threat of crime threatening employees’ safety despite the frequency of previous break-ins and robberies only targeting the store’s products.
The CEO and founder of b8ta, Vibhu Norby, said he got used to the occasional looting at his retail stores, noting a specific incident that happened five years ago at Hayes Valley. He argued that his technological products had high demand in the black market.
However, amid the rising number of crimes in the region, Norby has begun worrying about his employees’ safety and well-being. There have been frequent robberies and overnight break-ins at Hayes Valley this year. And in Union Square, officials have reported three muggings so far.
Norby believed it was for the best of his staff that he close down the store on the same block as the one in Union Square despite still paying the rental fees. “It doesn’t matter how expensive it is. We can’t send our employees into a store where there’s even a 2% chance they get mugged,” he said.
On Twitter, Norby posted about his shops’ and employees’ situation and expressed his frustration about the surging crime in the city. He added that police officers patrolled his branches more frequently after he took to social media to share the crimes.
In a single thread, Norby continued his story and shared his experiences with criminals and the threat that his employees are currently facing. He posted a video of a man breaking a store’s glass window at the Hayes Valley branch. Additionally, on January 5, an unidentified man broke into the store in broad daylight and took a Devialet speaker worth $2,200.
“Have never mentioned this publicly, but we have stores all over the country, and crime/employee harassment in our San Francisco stores (mostly Hayes Valley but now Chase Center as well) is 10x the rest of our stores combined,” Norby said in a tweet on January 19.
However, Norby believes that his online engagement was not enough to bring awareness to the situation of his staff members. He noted that the focus of the crimes have been in the Hayes Valley, expressing his wonder that his other branches were not experiencing the same level of threat.
Solving the Problem
The CEO said they were constantly monitoring the stores, arguing that the criminals know when the products were not secured with cords and had full knowledge about the schedule of security guards, the San Francisco Gate reported.
Norby decided to hire full-time overnight security at his Hayes Valley store to make sure that criminals are not able to rob their stores freely. However, he noted that it would cost him 30% more than his monthly rental fees. The CEO said the cost was not sustainable for any business.
“There has to be some effort made; I don’t care what it is. I feel like they don’t even talk about it. It doesn’t seem like it’s a major issue. There are ways to solve this. [City officials] can come talk to me. I’m happy to discuss what we’ve seen and the cost of this,” Norby said, expressing hopes that the city would take notice of the problem and figure out a solution.
Additionally, Norby opted to reduce his stores’ operational hours and hired more employees to work together. He is continuing to detail out his experiences and his store’s situation over on his Twitter thread. “I just want my stores to be safer for employees when they go to work,” he said.