SF Supe: Gangs responsible for more than a dozen closures of Walgreens stores


Brazen shoplifting in San Francisco has forced more than a dozen Walgreens drug stores to close over the past five years.

Authorities said criminal gangs are responsible for the vast majority of thefts, which are costing businesses millions of dollars.

"Eighty-five percent of their loss is committed by organized criminal activity," said District 11 Supervisor Ahsha Safai. "That to me was just shocking."

Seventeen Walgreens stores have closed over the past five years because of shoplifting, largely the result of organized gangs. "They will rob about maybe $1,000-$2,000 worth of goods from each store from 10 stores or more in a single day."

Safai said San Francisco has become one of the epicenters for organized retail crime in the U.S., and the repeated closures hurt Walgreens’ neighbors.

"It impacts everyone: impacts seniors, impacts families, impacts the small businesses in the area. It's bad all the way around."

Safai is calling on police and prosecutors to do a better job protecting these businesses, like a bust last year that uncovered $20 million in stolen products.

"It's not that nothing has been done, but certainly we need to do better."

There could be help from Sacramento: A bill in the State Senate would make it easier to take down online marketplaces for stolen retail products.