San Francisco Police Secretly Deployed At Stores To Catch Shoplifters
SFPD San Francisco Police Department (SFPD) vehicle in the Mission Bay neighborhood of San Francisco, California, December 5, 2019. (Photo by Smith Collection/Gado/Getty Images) Smith Collection/Gado / Contributor
Photo by Smith Collection/Gado/ Contributor/Getty Images

According to authorities on Friday, San Francisco police officers have been deployed at stores throughout the city in an attempt to take shoplifters into custody as they carry out crimes. 

A San Francisco Police Department (SFPD) spokesperson stated that police officers carried out 60 arrests since the end of November, the San Francisco Chronicle reported. Law enforcement authorities are keeping specific information about the initiative under wraps as it is still in effect. Around half of the arrests were provided diversion and the remainder are in the process of being prosecuted, according to police. 

“These operations have resulted in 13 felony bookings, over 47 misdemeanor citations, and they will continue,” the SFPD said in a statement.

SFPD Deputy Chief Raj Vaswani noted that the work started at the end of November and would keep going until next month at the least. The department is reportedly set to keep it going into January of next year. 

“We’re going to assess it and see how successful it is,” Vaswani said. “Of course, we also have to look at the overall resources and how sustainable it is.”

While burglary numbers in San Francisco have gone down from last year, according to SFPD data, robbery has gone up 4.9% from last year. Larceny is also up 9.6%, which included shoplifting in its definition. 

The crime situation in the city largely led to the ousting of District Attorney Chesa Boudin from office earlier this year. Current DA Brooke Jenkins put in place more severe punishments for certain offenses. According to an analysis by the Chronicle, police increased the amount of arrests they took to the DA’s office for potential prosecution after Brooke took over by almost 20%.  

“Addressing retail theft is a priority for my office and we have been working closely with the San Francisco police to ensure that there is accountability and appropriate consequences in all cases,” Jenkins said in a statement.

Stores involved in the effort include Gap Inc. and Safeway. Vaswani also noted that the project involved Old Navy, Whole Foods, Target, CVS, Macy’s, and Walgreens sites. 

Walgreens previously noted that it was shutting down four of its store sites in San Francisco over “organized retail crime.”

“Retail theft is not a victimless crime. It hurts our local business. It hurts our workers who are getting their hours cut or losing their jobs. It hurts people who are shopping to feed their families and it hurts our seniors who depend on neighborhood pharmacies that are forced to shutter,” SFPD spokesperson Adam Lobsinger said in a statement, per the Chronicle. 

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