Target stores in San Francisco have been forced to place their products on display shelves behind security glass due to a surge in retail theft in the city that has forced large retail chains, including Walmart, Whole Foods and Walgreens, to shutter multiple locations.
The reports come after a TikTok video revealed that rows and rows of products were kept sealed behind protective glass in a Target store on Folsom Street — including inexpensive items like shampoo, mouthwash and lotion.
However, a Target spokesperson denied that all the store’s products were being placed behind the glass, just valuable items such as razors and expensive products.
“Like other retailers, organized retail crime is a concern across our business. We’re taking proactive measures to keep our teams and guests safe while deterring and preventing theft,” the spokesperson said. “These mitigation efforts include hiring additional security guards, adding third-party guard services at select locations, and using new technologies and tools to protect merchandise from being stolen.”
According to the spokesperson, Target is working with legislators and law enforcement to create “a safe environment in our stores and keeping our doors open in communities across the country.”
San Francisco has been hit particularly hard by shoplifting over the past few years.
According to a 2022 security survey from the National Retail Federation, San Francisco/Oakland was ranked second in the country behind Los Angeles in retail theft incidents for 2020 and 2021. New York City and Houston were ranked third and fourth, respectively.
The survey reported that the items most frequently stolen were apparel, electronics, and health and beauty products. Retailers also said organized retail crime has led to more violence this year than the previous year, placing store employees and customers in dangerous situations.
In 2021, major drug store chain Walgreens closed several stores in San Francisco due to repeated acts of brazen shoplifting, while Whole Foods was recently forced to close its flagship store in the city just over a year after it opened.
“We are closing our Trinity location for the time being,” a Whole Foods spokesperson said. “If we feel we can be sure of the safety of our team members in the store, we will evaluate a reopening of our Trinity location.”
To combat shoplifting in the city, Mayor London Breed aims to first address the police department staffing crisis. The city recently signed a new contract with the police department to raise starting salaries for police officers to boost recruiting and replenish staffing levels.
The San Francisco Police Department is currently 25% understaffed, according to Chief Bill Scott.
“People want our officers to focus on the open-air drug dealing, retail theft, home burglaries, and violence impacting our neighborhoods, but we need more police to deliver,” Breed stated.