Walgreens closing five SF stores because of thefts

City looks at allowing sheriff’s officers to provide private security

Blaming rampant theft, drug chain Walgreens announced Tuesday it will close five San Francisco stores next month.

The stores are: 2550 Ocean Ave., 4645 Mission St., 745 Clement St., 300 Gough St., and 3400 Cesar Chavez St.

“Organized retail crime continues to be a challenge facing retailers across San Francisco, and we are not immune to that. 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 company said in a statement.

San Francisco Supervisor Ahsha Safai said the closures would severely impact children, families and seniors, many of whom get their prescription medications from Walgreens pharmacies.

“I am completely devastated by this news. This closure will significantly impact this community. This Walgreens is less than a mile from seven schools and has been a staple for families and children for decades,” he said of the Mission Street location. “The City needs to act with a sense of urgency to reduce and deter the number of incidents of commercial retail theft.”

Safai has been working with Walgreens and other retailers to find solutions to rampant and increasingly brazen retail thefts happening throughout the city.

Two weeks ago, Safai introduced legislation that would amend The City’s administrative code to allow sheriff’s deputies to contract with businesses, private events, and community benefits districts to provide security. Under the legislation, the private companies would pay the deputies’ overtime at no cost to taxpayers.

San Francisco Sheriff Paul Miyamoto is supporting the legislation.

“With the recent rise in property crimes in San Francisco, the San Francisco Sheriff’s Office is ready to do its part in keeping our communities safe,” Miyamoto said. “Our office and members support the legislation that will allow for SFSO staff to have a presence in stores and businesses to keep everyone safe and reduce opportunities to commit crimes. It is important to help keep stores in our community for access not just to retail outlets, but pharmacies and medical services they host or provide.”

In addition to the proposed legislation, Safai has convened a Commercial Retail Theft Working Group, which includes Police Chief Bill Scott and District Attorney Chesa Boudin, and will make recommendations on policies.

Last month, Scott and Mayor London Breed announced a series of initiatives that would address retail thefts, including among others, expanding the Police Department’s Organized Retail Crime Unit and recruiting more retired police officers to patrol neighborhoods.

Walgreens said each closing store will transfer prescriptions to another nearby Walgreens location within a mile radius and customers will get a notice in the mail. Additionally, the company said it will place employees at the shuttered locations at other nearby stores.

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