‘Lawlessness’: San Francisco’s shoplifting problem increasingly frustrates business owners, employees

Shoplifting and car break-ins are becoming more brazen in San Francisco and residents, business owners and employees told Fox News they’re becoming increasingly frustrated.

“This is really bad. I’ve been in the Bay area 20 years, I’ve never seen this,” a local security guard, J.C. Hernandez, told Fox News.

“It’s just lawlessness,” he continued. “People are just openly coming in and stealing stuff.”

One local employee, Gianni, who didn’t want to give his last name, told Fox News: “It’s getting worse and worse.”

California Retail Association President Rachel Michelin told Fox News the extent of the problem “blows your mind away.” She said multi-millions of dollars worth of merchandise is being stolen from retailers in San Francisco and the money is ultimately used by crime syndicates.

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Shoplifters aren’t stealing “one or two items that someone might need to get by,” San Francisco Police Department spokesman Robert Rueca told Fox News. “Our investigations have shown that there are organized fences where people are selling these products that they steal.”

Many local businesses are dealing with the consequences. 

A manager at Jeffrey’s Toy Store who didn’t want to give her name showed Fox News where someone smashed a window to break into the store one night. They now leave that part of the store boarded up. She said there was not much else they could do. 

Adora Gipson, a San Francisco resident, described how challenging it has been for many local businesses in the area.

“People don’t want to leave their stuff out because they’re afraid someone is going to snatch and grab it,” she told Fox News.

“These people are hard-working people,” Gipson continued. “They have been here for years. A lot of shops had to close during the pandemic, so to try to reopen and get back on track, it’s hard and they are afraid.”

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Major retail stores have also grappled with crime. A video recently went viral showing several shoplifters with hands full of merchandise fleeing from a Neiman Marcus department store. 

In a statement to Fox News, Neiman Marcus said: “The safety and welfare of our associates and customers is our top priority, and we’re relieved to report that no one was harmed in the incident. We’re cooperating with the San Francisco Police Department in their investigation.” 

Many San Francisco residents believe that crimes have become increasingly open and brazen.

“It has definitely gotten a lot more aggressive over the past couple years. People are very, very bold in their shoplifting tactics is what we’ve seen recently” a local retail employee told Fox News.

Another San Francisco resident, Michael Navid, added: “They casually walk in, grab what they need, and walk out.”

Gipson, an employee at National Car Rental, said crime is not limited to shoplifting and that car break-ins have also devastated the city.

“We get broken windows every few minutes. We got like 30 cars now that’s with broken windows here because people have experienced the smash-and-grab thing,” Gipson told Fox News.

Similarly, Gianni said he sees 10 car break-ins daily.

“It goes on from morning to night every single day, over and over and over again,” Gianni continued. “Nobody is doing anything about it.”

Maneet Sohal, who owns a family business in Fisherman’s Wharf, showed Fox News broken glass on the street and smashed car windows. 

Echoing others, Sohal said that “police do not do anything about it.”