SAN FRANCISCO - Following an announcement by retail chain Walgreens that it's closing five of its San Francisco stores due to retail theft, city Supervisor Ahsha Safai said Tuesday he's hoping legislation he recently proposed can prevent stores from further closing locations.
According to Walgreens, next month it will close its locations at 2550 Ocean Ave., 4645 Mission St., 745 Clement St., 300 Gough St., and 3400 Cesar Chavez St.
"Due to ongoing organized retail crime, we have made the difficult decision to close five stores across San Francisco," Walgreens said in a statement Tuesday.
"Organized retail crime continues to be a challenge facing retailers across San Francisco, and we are not immune to that. Retail theft across our San Francisco stores has continued to increase in the past few months to five times our chain average. During this time to help combat this issue, we increased our investments in security measures in stores across the city to 46 times our chain average in an effort to provide a safe environment," the company said.
Upon hearing the news, Safai said the closures would severely impact children, families and seniors, many of whom get their prescription medications from Walgreens pharmacies.
"I am completely devastated by this news. This closure will significantly impact this community. This Walgreens is less than a mile from seven schools and has been a staple for families and children for decades," he said of the Mission Street location. "The city needs to act with a sense of urgency to reduce and deter the number of incidents of commercial retail theft."
Safai has been working with Walgreens and other retailers to find solutions to rampant and increasingly brazen retail thefts happening throughout the city.
Two weeks ago, Safai introduced legislation that would amend the city's administrative code to allow sheriff's deputies to contract with businesses, private events, and community benefits districts to provide security. Under the legislation, the private companies would pay the deputies' overtime at no cost to taxpayers.
San Francisco Sheriff Paul Miyamoto is supporting the legislation.
"With the recent rise in property crimes in San Francisco, the San Francisco Sheriff's Office (SFSO) is ready to do its part in keeping our communities safe," Miyamoto said. "Our office and members support the legislation that will allow for SFSO staff to have a presence in stores and businesses to keep everyone safe and reduce opportunities to commit crimes. It is important to help keep stores in our community for access not just to retail outlets, but pharmacies and medical services they host or provide."
In addition to the proposed legislation, Safai has also convened a Commercial Retail Theft Working Group, which includes Police Chief Bill Scott and District Attorney Chesa Boudin and will make recommendations on policies.
Also, last month, Scott and Mayor London Breed announced a series of new initiatives that would address retail thefts, including among others, expanding the Police Department's Organized Retail Crime Unit and recruiting more retired police officers to patrol neighborhoods.
With the five Walgreens locations closing next month, Walgreens said each store will automatically transfer prescriptions to another nearby Walgreens location within a mile radius and patients will get a notice in the mail. Additionally, the company said it will place employees at the closing locations at other nearby locations.
The drugstore chain has closed at least 10 stores in the city since the start of 2019.
Associated Press contributed to this report.