Target to close 3 Bay Area stores, citing theft and employee safety

Retail giant Target on Tuesday announced it will shut down three Bay Area stores, saying rampant theft and organized retail crime were making it unsafe for its workers and customers and creating a business environment that was not sustainable. 

Target said effective Oct. 21, it will close its San Francisco location at Folsom and 13th streets; its Oakland store located at Broadway and 27th Street, and its store in Pittsburg on Century Boulevard. 

"In this case, we cannot continue operating these stores because theft and organized retail crime are threatening the safety of our team and guests, and contributing to unsustainable business performance," the company said.

The Bay Area locations were part of wider closures involving a total of nine stores, in four states. And it came as a growing number of retail chains were closing shop in high crime areas in the region. 

SEE ALSO: Oakland merchants plan to strike, small businesses hurting due to crime

Target said it was difficult to make the decision to close its stores but that it went forward with the plan only after the company had made significant investments toward trying to combat theft and protect its workers and customers from criminal activity at its locations. 

"It’s sad because we’re losing a lot of stores," said Janine Esquibel, who lives walking distance from the Uptown Oakland location. "I’ve been in the store and watch people take stuff and they don’t do anything."

"Despite our efforts, unfortunately, we continue to face fundamental challenges to operating these stores safely and successfully,’ the company said.

"I’ve got all of my prescriptions here, and I don’t know what we’re going to do," said Bob Melrose, a shopper at the Pittsburg location. "I know they’ve had a little bit of trouble here, there’s lots of security but I had no idea they were going to close this store."

The investments toward safety at its stores have included hiring additional security personnel and implementing theft-deterrent tools like storing some merchandise behind locked cases.

The company also said it would continue to partner with the community, as well as government and industry entities, for solutions. 

That approach involved efforts like outreach, to connect its customers in underserved populations with community resources.  

"Our Outreach Coordinator Program has engaged in over 5,700 meaningful guest interactions across 11 markets, delivered nearly 100 trainings, and hosted or partnered on more than 135 events," Target said.

The Minneapolis-based retailer said it would also strengthen its ties with law enforcement and government programs including supporting a new law known as the INFORM Consumers Act, designed to give marketplaces a larger role in combating second-hand sale of stolen goods. 

The company also said it would push for legislation in Congress to create a task force of federal agencies to crack down on theft and organized retail crime.

SEE ALSO: San Francisco gets $17 million to fight retail theft, Oakland misses grant deadline

In addition to the Bay Area closures, stores were slated to shutter next month in New York City as well as the Seattle and the Portland markets.

Target said 32 stores will still remain open in the Bay Area, where it employed more than 6,400 workers. And the company promised to help place eligible team members affected by the closures to transfer to other Target locations. 

"We know that our stores serve an important role in their communities," the retailer said, "but we can only be successful if the working and shopping environment is safe for all." 

This story was reported from Oakland, Calif.