San Francisco launches Safe Shopper Initiative

San Francisco is officially kicking off the Safe Shopper Initiative around Union Square. As we approach the post-Thanksgiving shopping season, the city will be deploying additional police and community ambassadors to the area.

San Francisco's Union Square is already buzzing with activity and that activity is only expected to increase as the holiday shopping season gets underway. Mayor London Breed says safety has to be a priority for shops and shoppers. "I know that often times there are a number of videos that continue to go viral that try to paint a really harsh picture of our beautiful city," said Mayor Breed. "But,

I'm here to tell you that things have changed."

It was almost a year ago that the square was the target of a mass theft incident.

Police Chief Bill Scott says he has quadrupled the number of officers patrolling the area. "During the holiday season last year you couldn't come to this area without bumping into a police officer, and guess what?" said Chief Scott. "That's what will happen this year."

The city's district attorney said her office will ensure consequences for anyone caught crossing the line. "The lawlessness and organized retail theft that we saw this time last year will not be tolerated under any circumstance," said District Attorney Brooke Jenkins. "The days of there being free passes for that kind of conduct are gone."

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Travis Wilson from the CK Contemporary art gallery says he's seen safer conditions in the area since last year, and welcomes additional police and community ambassadors to make sure shops and shoppers feel safer. "The attention the city is giving Union Square has is really paying off," said Wilson. "It's not just us who are here every day that are feeling better. It's the people that are coming and visiting. Being here every day you see the best of it, and you also see the worst of it, and we're seeing the worst of it far less than we have in a very long time."

The city also announced it will be offering an hour of free parking at Union Square with extra eyes and ears inside the garage and on the vehicles to crack down on auto-burglaries.