CONCORD, Calif. (Rob Malcom/KTVU) - The Safeway store at 2600 Willow Pass Road in Concord has been plagued with problems.
Customers say they are greeted panhandlers inside and outside of the store which also has a persistent problem of shoplifting. Customers like Desiree Monsarat from Martinez only stop in when she's out of choices.
“A lot of times, people do ask for money in front of the store, sometimes inside the store there's questionable people," she said. “Just tonight, it seemed a woman was watching. I had my wallet in the cart it seemed like she was watching."
Concord Mayor Laura Hoffmeister says her office has been inundated with complaints and the problems have been going on for about a year and half at the 29-year-old store.
Hoffmeister said the complaints are largely about loitering. "The loitering that's going on in there also folks that will steal from the store taking merchandise without paying for it we've had homelessness or trespassing issues going on," she said.
The mayor addressed the complaints in August she sent a letter to Safeway's parent company, Albertsons, outlining concerns of homelessness, trespassing , and shoplifting.
She would like Safeway to allow Concord police to cite trespassers and shoplifters on the spot and also work with local police on better security measures but has been met with resistance.
Hoffmeister said: "They weren't interested in pursuing an authorization to arrest they weren't interested in working with our police department on crime prevention options they feel the corporate standards right now are satisfactory."
Safeway responded Sept. 15 with a letter that read in part, "We have information about the Concord Police Department's Authorization to Arrest Trespassers program. The company is not presently entering these programs."
Store representatives also stated they employ a number of security measures to prevent and deter shoplifting, including visible deterrents and others that aren't apparent.
Christian Korsgard who works in the deli told KTVU, "We have a problem with shoplifting a problem with violence were trying to cut it all back were having problems like crazy."
Concord’s mayor says an authorization to arrest or cite shoplifters and trespassers would cut down on some problems but the cities hands are tied because the Willow Pass Road location is a standalone store with the property entirely owned and managed by Safeway.
While the store for now is determined to rely on the corporate security measures in place, absent of help from Concord police they have agreed to make some changes by looking at the cosmetic condition of the building and agreed to upgrade the lighting."
With talks right now at an impasse city leaders and police will meet again with store officials to find a solution to the problems it's not clear when that meeting will take place.