San Francisco

How Often Does San Francisco Deal With Shoplifters?

NBC Universal, Inc.

We’ve seen the smash and grab videos and how quickly they can turn violent.

Just in San Francisco, police records show close to 2,900 shopliftings were reported in 2022, way up from 2020, when shopliftings actually decreased by 34%, when the COVID pandemic began and many businesses shut down.

But the crime rebounded in 2021, with shoplifting reports going back up 15% from pre-pandemic levels. 

“There's no deterrent in the state of California to discourage theft at this point,” said Mike Leininger, a retired police officer and security consultant. 

We know that shoplifting is a big problem for stores across the Bay Area, but how often is it happening? Investigative Reporter Hilda Gutierrez reports.

Under current state law, shoplifting merchandise valued under $950 is considered a misdemeanor and often not investigated. 

“They basically opened the gates to theft,” said Leninger. “And you are seeing that in stores that are closing, chains that are lowering the number of stores under the guise of financial constraints or reasons.”

He said what happened with the loss prevention employee in Pleasanton’s Home Depot Tuesday should have never happened.  

“For the state of California, for licensed security guards, they are mandated to observe and report only. They're not to take physical action,” he said.

Leininger added that if you witness a shoplifting as an employee or customer, you should not engage the suspect. It is best to notify the authorities and record, only if it is safe to do so.

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