San Fran Stores Are Chaining Up Freezer Sections To Deter Shoplifters

Sarah Merly | July 20, 2023
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San Francisco may tout itself as the epitome of a West Coast paradise – but the city’s convenience store shelves suggest otherwise.

Political commentator Richie Greenberg recently tweeted footage of a Walgreens at the corner of 17th Avenue and Geary Boulevard in San Francisco. The viral video shows much of the store’s products sitting behind either chains or plexiglass. 

If you wanted to buy a container of Breyers vanilla ice cream, for example, you can’t just open the freezer door and grab it yourself. Why? Because looting - often in broad daylight - has become so common, stores are forced to lock up even the most ordinary of items.

“I’ve been terribly inconvenienced as a shopper to need to wait and wait for clerks to come open the locks at each area of the store for the products I need,” Greenberg said. “I’ve stood in line inside for pharmacy pickup and watched thieves walk out of the store with arms loaded up. I’ve driven by the same store, seeing stolen merchandise in the arms of homeless crossing the street.”

Related: Of Course, California: Teen Criminals Are Attacking Soccer Moms With Bats in 'Stroller Alley'

“Off camera a Walgreens employee told me they are hit 15 to 20 times a day,” ABC7 News reporter Luz Pena explained. “Out of frustration a week and a half ago they decided to chain up their freezer section.”

Criminals simply aren’t afraid of local law enforcement, largely thanks to local and state laws that limit the penalties for shoplifting, leaving retail chains hesitant to take action or file reports for crimes that likely won't even be prosecuted. Even after Walgreens installed plexiglass over several products, shoplifters have tried to burn through the fixtures.

“It’s getting worse, because more and more people are coming into the west side of the city on the 38th bus line,” Sergeant Jim O’Meara of the San Francisco Police Department said. “They’re getting off, and they’re basically stealing from out of the store.”

O’Meara also explained that although he detained eight shoplifters the day before the video was filmed, he couldn’t arrest any of them.

“[T]he store didn’t wish to put a citizen's arrest on them. All they wanted to do was get their product back," he said.

This is only one of the billion reasons people move to Florida, folks.

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