The Shoplifting Capital of the U.S.A.


It ought to be possible to operate a retail store in one of America’s largest and most iconic cities, but this most basic commercial proposition is in doubt in San Francisco.

The erstwhile Golden City is beset by an ongoing tide of theft that is closing down retail locations and demonstrating again the city’s unwillingness to govern itself.

Cities around the country dub themselves “the capital” of this or that signature product: artichokes in Castroville, Calif.; earmuffs in Farmington, Maine; spinach in Alma, Ark.; fried chicken in Barberton, Ohio.

San Francisco, and the larger Bay Area, could now easily claim the title of Shoplifting Capital of the U.S.A., should it want the honor.

The viral video of brazen thefts has become one of the city’s most influential cultural exports.

Hey, look — here are 80 people engaged in a large-scale, smash-and-grab robbery of a Nordstrom in Walnut Creek outside of San Francisco last weekend, one of a series of jaw-dropping thefts over the past several days, including an operation that cleared out a Louis Vuitton on San Francisco’s Union Square.

Check this out — people with fancy handbags running out of a Neiman Marcus into waiting cars.

You won’t believe it — this guy loads merchandise from a Walgreen’s into a big trash bag and jumps on his bike to ride down the aisle and out of the store.

These aren’t episodic crimes. Walgreens says that its San Francisco stores experience a level of theft five times the national average. As a consequence, the chain has been steadily closing locations. It has shuttered 17 already and last month announced five more closures, including the one hit by the man on the bike (who was finally arrested after robbing the store one too many times).

Target and Safeway have been reducing hours to try to limit the exposure of their locations to theft.

Stores often put the likes of toothpaste and shampoo behind security locks, as if they are high-end goods or the outlets are operating in Caracas, Venezuela.

The shoplifting problem represents a deliberate choice rather than an unstoppable tide. Modern societies long ago figured out how to maintain civil order such that law-abiding people could buy and sell goods without being systematically preyed on by thieves. It’s just that the Bay Area has chosen to forget.

California adopted Proposition 47 in 2014 that made thefts of $950 or less a misdemeanor. Once people realized that they were unlikely to be arrested or prosecuted for stealing less than $1,000, they, of course, responded to the incentive. For their part, the stores advise employees not to interfere with shoplifters, lest they get hurt. Many crimes don’t even go reported.

And so, it is open season for people to take whatever they want.

New York City famously reestablished order in the 1990s based on “broken windows” policing, or a focus on offenses that degraded the quality of life; San Francisco and similar locales are engaged in “broken windows” neglect — the broken windows being at high-end stores struck by emboldened robbers.

This is a polity deciding that it is more important to stay its own hand from arresting and jailing criminals than to protect businesses from getting robbed, protect duly employed people from having to watch reprobates flout the law, and protect neighborhoods from losing retail outlets that they depend on.

The stance of San Francisco isn’t exactly anti-business. No, it is, in effect, privileging one business model over another. On the one hand, there are the legitimate businesses that buy their goods and sell them in legal market transactions. On the other, there are the organized-crime rings that oversee the theft of vast amounts of merchandise that is turned around and sold online.

The former model should be given the environment to thrive, the latter ground to dust. A rational society knows this, and perhaps, one day, San Francisco will again as well.

Reprinted with Permission from - National Review by - Rich Lowry

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2 days ago

Think back to the LA riots,korea town had not much looting.Wonder why???

10 days ago

Frankly, I’m enjoying watching cities like San Francisco, run by left wing lunatics for the benefit of other left wing lunatics, destroying itself in the name of liberalism. Keep up the good work.

11 days ago

I know there are some good points San Francisco. I also feel every retail store

11 days ago

The chickens come home to roost.

11 days ago

This is third world behavior in a first world country!!!

11 days ago

This is just another piece of the Marxist take over that the Democrat party has perpetrated on our country. Where are the law abiding people in these leftist cities? When are they going to stand up and do what is needed ?? We can’t come there and do it for you. Grow a backbone!!

11 days ago

LOL ????????????
California is reaping what it sowed.

11 days ago

Nancy P should be so proud of her district. Too bad she is wasn’t shopping in Walnut Creek during the grab and go. San Fran used to be a nice place to visit. Now it is nothing but a ghetto. Glad I moved out 30 years ago.

Dave d
11 days ago
Reply to  Blondie

Why should Pelosi care? She’s wealthy, in a gated community, and already has her freezer loaded with ice cream.

11 days ago
Reply to  Dave d

And she just bought a mansion in Florida…

Paul Berardi
11 days ago

Walgreens needs to have drivethru or walkup window service only for everything

11 days ago
Reply to  Paul Berardi

Walgreens is too slow already. Your suggestion would resilt in 1 – 2 hour waits that nobody would put up with.

Sally Duncan
11 days ago

I don’t hold out much hope for San Fransicko

11 days ago

It’s too bad that the Democrats brought this crime spree onto themselves with their defunding the police issue. It is only a matter of time when this organized criminal entity starts spreading out as store chains close their doors because of the lack of protection that the state of CA was stupid enough to make into their laws.

11 days ago
Reply to  Max

It started before that as the article states when they made it a misdemeanor to steal less than $950. The “Defund the Police” movement is just the latest progressive step toward the ruination of this once great nation. But hey, let’s keep voting Democrat, shall we?

8 days ago
Reply to  Will

Pelosi doesn’t care. She just bought a mansion in a republican led state. How ironic is that!

H L Howell
2 days ago
Reply to  Joyce

She knows that she is done politically and doesn’t want to go back to the cesspool that she has created. Look for her to sell her california palace and make Fl. her new address. Nobody that I know, wants her here either. She should go to Cuba.

7 days ago
Reply to  Will

I used to wonder why so many people “voted” for these lunatics over and over and over again. After the fiasco of an “election” in 2020, I now know and understand completely. They aren’t! Their votes are stolen and elections rigged! Trump 2024! (or someone else with kahunas to stand up for America!)

11 days ago


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