San Francisco police secretly stake out retail stores, pharmacies to curb rampant shoplifting

San Francisco police have been staking out retail and grocery stores to catch shoplifters and have arrested 60 people since the covert operation launched last month, officials said.

“Retail theft is not a victimless crime. It hurts our local business,” SFPD spokesperson Adam Lobsinger said in a statement, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.

“It hurts our workers who are getting their hours cut or losing their jobs,” Lobsinger added. “It hurts people who are shopping to feed their families, and it hurts our seniors who depend on neighborhood pharmacies that are forced to shut down.”

Details of the operation are slim, but the police said that officers have been deployed to monitor pharmacies, grocery stores and retail stores across the city. The stores include Walgreens, Old Navy, Target, Whole Foods, CVS and Macy’s, the Chronicle reported.

“These operations have resulted in 13 felony bookings, over 47 misdemeanor citations, and they will continue,” SFPD said in a statement.

SAN FRANCISCO SHOPLIFTING: THIEVES CAUGHT ON CAMERA STUFFING STOLEN GOODS IN BAGS AT WALGREENS

San Francisco police chief Bill Scott speaks to reporters about a break in and attack at the home of US Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) on Oct.  28, 2022 in San Francisco.

San Francisco police chief Bill Scott speaks to reporters about a break in and attack at the home of US Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) on Oct. 28, 2022 in San Francisco.
(Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

Roughly half of the 60 arrested suspects were offered diversion, while the other half are facing prosecution ranging from commercial shoplifting to grand theft.

Raj Vaswani, deputy chief of the department, said the operation will last at least another month.

“We’re going to assess it and see how successful it is,” Vaswani said. “Of course, we also have to look at the overall resources and how sustainable it is.”

EMBOLDENED SF SHOPLIFTER SAY STEALING IS EASY, CITES LAX SECURITY AS STORE TAKES DRASTIC ACTION

Both the city’s mayor and district attorney published statements in support of cracking down on theft crimes.

“Addressing retail theft is a priority for my office and we have been working closely with the San Francisco police to ensure that there is accountability and appropriate consequences in all cases,” District Attorney Brooke Jenkins said in a statement.

Mayor London Breed addresses a news conference as Brooke Jenkins looks on at City Hall, Thursday, July 7, 2022, in San Francisco.

Mayor London Breed addresses a news conference as Brooke Jenkins looks on at City Hall, Thursday, July 7, 2022, in San Francisco.
(Santiago Mejia/San Francisco Chronicle via AP)

“Operations like this not only yield results in arrests and prosecutions, they also send a message that there will be consequences when you cross the line in San Francisco,” San Francisco Mayor London Breed added in her own statement, according to the Chronicle. “There has to be accountability in this city and we will keep building on the strong partnerships with our retailers to address theft in their stores so we can create a safer space for both residents and workers.”

Shoplifting crimes have plagued San Francisco in recent years, with some stores closing or cutting hours in response. Walgreens, for example, announced earlier this year that it was closing four store locations in the city due to “organized retail crime.”

The Bay Area has also been hit by repeated smash-and-grab crimes since last year, with criminals rushing into high-end stores armed with bats and other weapons then fleeing with thousands of dollars in merchandise.

SAN FRANCISCO SHOPLIFTING: WOMEN CAUGHT ON VIDEO ALLEGEDLY BOLTING FROM CVS WITH BAGS FULL OF STOLEN GOODS

Logo of the San Francisco Police Department over a photo of the city.

Logo of the San Francisco Police Department over a photo of the city.
(San Francisco Police)

West Coast police unions pinned the smash-and-grab crimes on Proposition 47, which passed in 2014. Under the law, charges of theft of items valued at $950 or less were lowered from felonies to misdemeanors. The measure was supported by various Democratic state leaders, as well as the ACLU.

“San Francisco voters were lied to by the ACLU. Voters were told that prosecuting thieves was really a racist attack on people of color whose only real crime was poverty. So Proposition 47, the so-called Safe Neighborhoods and Schools Act, lowered felonies to misdemeanors for theft of goods valued at $950 dollars or less,” San Francisco Police Officers Association President Tony Montoya told Fox News Digital last year.

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Fox News Digital reached out to Breed’s and Jenkins’ offices, as well as the police department Monday morning but did not immediately receive replies.