SF’s mayor, police announce city’s push to address retail shoplifting cases

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Additional police, increased cooperation, and easier reporting venues were vowed by San Francisco’s mayor and police chief on Wednesday to address the shoplifting cases in the city.

In a news conference, Mayor London Breed said that planned shoplifting caused pharmacies and markets to shut down and affected those who were employed and benefited from the establishments.

Breed said compassion reigns in San Francisco and there is no space for stealing.

“We care about criminal justice reform. We care about second chances. We care about making sure that people are not wrongly accused,” the mayor said. “But don’t take our kindness for weakness, our compassion for weakness.”

There have been shoplifting images that spread across the city and triggered fear in the public. Among these incidents happened this summer when masked shoplifters carried designer bags from Neiman Marcus department store and escaped through getaway vehicles. Another man in a mask was captured through a video in June when he filled a trash bag with items from Walgreens and fled on a bicycle.

To crack down on these cases, the organized retail crime unit of the SFD will boost the number of its investigators, making it six from the previous two. Also, high-profile commercial centers will now be patrolled by 25 people, which was previously eight, through the effort of an ambassador program of retired officers. Retailers will now also find it easier to report these cases to the police.

 “We’re not going to arrest everybody, although we’d like to,” said San Francisco Police Chief Bill Scott. “But just know that you don’t get a free pass when you come to this city and commit those types of crimes.”

Meanwhile, Mano Raju, the city’s public defender, said expanding “failed approaches” cannot do anything good.

“It may shift the target, but it will not impact financially motivated crime generally,” he said in a statement, as reported by SFGATE. “We need to focus our resources to treat the source of the problem.”

This year, the overall crime has increased by 2 percent compared to a similar period in 2020. Reports on larceny theft this year have reached more than 19, 000, the police said. Last year, it was at more than 25, 5000 and in 2019 at 42, 000.