SAN FRANCISCO - Shoppers will notice more police patrolling San Francisco’s most popular shopping area, Union Square.
The already planned increase in police presence coincided with major damage caused by thieves who drove a Ford cargo van right through the locked doors of the Kohl’s store in Pleasant Hill this week.
Police said the thieves swiped jewelry and sunglasses from the retailer on Thanksgiving night, left the van behind and fled in their getaway car. The store was closed at the time, but it reopened Friday.
After 2021’s smash-and-grab crime spree hit Union Square hard, major retailers closed up shop for good.
This year, extra officers will be on patrol 24/7 throughout the holiday shopping season. Shoppers returned for Black Friday deals.
Parminder from Fairfield brought his family to go shopping and ice skating.
"We leave nothing in the car, you know. We carry least amount of cash as possible; just use credit cards really," Parminder said.
"Anyone who’s coming down here to take advantage of shoppers think again," San Francisco Police Department Sgt. Kathryn Winters told KTVU.
The police department’s mobile command center was parked outside the Apple Store on Friday.
According to Winters, triple the number of officers compared to a normal Friday could be seen walking the square on Black Friday, with officers numbering in the dozens. Undercover officers are part of the task force.
"I think that’s good to stop the shoplifting and that kind of thing because it’s kind of sad to see a lot of store owners just losing," shopper Manny Aguilar of San Francisco said.
James Cheung came all the way from Hong Kong. He had a negative image of the city before he arrived.
"Dangerous, a lot of homeless people they take drugs as well, but today it’s like pretty safe when I come here," Cheung said.
Martine Levinsen was visiting from Denmark and mentioned she makes sure to pay attention to her surroundings while in the city.
"We have to watch out more and yeah be safe all the time," Levinsen said.
Fanay Figala used to work at a Nordstrom store in San Francisco that shut down because of theft. She was shopping at Macy’s on Black Friday and noticed a lot of merchandise locked up.
"Everything, especially designer brands, because my husband always buys Polo Ralph Lauren," Figala said. "Everything is locked, so I have to ask for assistance, so somebody has to unlock [items] but I don’t mind."
The California Highway Patrol said the task force has led to 800 arrests this year alone, and the recovery of 130,000 stolen items worth about $5 million dollars.
"Feels more safer," Parminder said. "Feels like we have some protection out here."