SFPD crack down on retail theft

San Francisco police announced a major crackdown on shoplifters and retail crime. The department made 60 arrests since late November.

SFPD’s Burglary Unit started a "retail theft abatement operation." Officers – some undercover – visit hard-hit retail stores across the city and work directly with loss prevention teams. They identify repeat offenders and those involved in "fencing operations" where they receive and sell the stolen goods.

"We are seeing a lot of frequent theft and that’s what this was geared to address," said Raj Vaswani, deputy chief of the Investigations Unit.

"We are trying to help and stop the repeat offenders. Whatever their base underlying issue is that we can help address that’s our ultimate goal to get them to stop stealing," said Vaswani.

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Vaswani said stores involved in this operation included CVS, Walgreens, Safeway, Target, and Old Navy. They often go for items like alcohol and makeup. Vaswani said this constant inventory loss has led to hardships for business owners and the community.

"They are spending millions of dollars of trying to retain their items by putting in Plexiglas, hiring loss prevention, and they are also losing customers because customers do not want to go into a store where there is rampant theft," he said.

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Some stores have started to close early before it gets dark. Others have shut down entirely.

San Francisco Brooke Jenkins tweeted, "Addressing retail theft is a priority for my office, and we have been working closely with SFPD to ensure that there is accountability and appropriate consequences in all cases."

Mayor London Breed wrote this "sends a clear message that people committing these crimes will be held accountable."

Out of the 60 arrests, about half were offered diversion. 13 people have been booked. They face various charges including commercial shoplifting, petty theft, and grand theft.