On Thursday, Walgreens announced its plans to close another San Francisco store this month, just four months after it closed multiple other branches in the city because of “organized retail crime,” a report says.
The company announced that it will be closing its Kearny Street location, but it also didn’t cite crime as its reason for doing so.
“As we continue to execute our strategy to expand Walgreens role as a leader in the delivery of healthcare, we are focused on creating the right network of stores in the right locations to best meet the needs of the communities we serve,” a Walgreens spokesperson said, as per SFGate. “There are a number of factors that we take into consideration when opening and closing locations, including dynamics of the local market and changing buying habits of our customers.”
In November, the company closed five stores in the said city.
Organized Retail Crime Remains a Challenge
“Organized retail crime continues to be a challenge facing retailers across San Francisco, and we are not immune to that,” Phil Caruso, the Walgreens spokesperson, said at the time, as per SFGate. “Retail theft across our San Francisco stores has continued to increase in the past few months to five times our chain average. During this time to help combat this issue, we increased our investments in security measures in stores across the city to 46 times our chain average in an effort to provide a safe environment.”
The stores had closed other locations in the area before because of such crimes.
Are the Laws Too Lenient?
Critics claim that California’s laws, including the downgrading of thefts worth less than $950 to only misdemeanors have encouraged criminals.
Big cities such in California have continually been ravaged by smash-and-grab theft at stores and “follow home” robberies in residential neighborhoods in the past few months. Apart from these, criminals have also targeted freight trains in the state.
“This is organized theft,” California Gov. Gavin Newsom said in January while he went around the Union Pacific Railroad tracks in Los Angeles – a site where criminals dumped packaging after they looted items from the train.
Newsom also announced a multi-agency effort to somehow deter the crimes and hold suspects accountable. He said that the thieves might be charged under organized crime laws that have harsher penalties.
Mayor London Breed of San Francisco, however, questioned Walgreens’ reason for closing several locations last fall.
“They are saying [crime is] the primary reason, but I also think when a place is not generating revenue, and when they’re saturated — SF has a lot of Walgreens locations all over the city — so I do think that there are other factors that come into play,” the mayor said in October, according to SFGate’s report.