Clothing store closes in San Francisco because of smash-and-grab burglaries and constant shoplifting

Clothing store closes in San Francisco because of smash-and-grab burglaries and constant shoplifting
San Francisco's Tenderloin District (Image: YouTube screen grab)

San Francisco has finally stopped getting softer on crime. Unfortunately, it is too late for some retailers, which lost huge amounts of money due to smash-and-grab burglaries and shoplifting. Criminals eventually figured out that they could steal with impunity, and it’s hard to put the genie back in the bottle. Property crime rose to the point where police can’t begin to catch all the perpetrators, because there are just too many of them. Criminals learn about this, and even more come to San Francisco to commit crimes as a result. As John Sexton notes at Hot Air,

The progressive CEO of a clothing store chain announced yesterday that he would be closing the San Francisco store because of the frequent break ins by gangs of thieves. Davis Smith who runs the active-wear chain Cotopaxi, described San Francisco as a “city of chaos” and one in which his retail workers are “terrified.” He also described how practical efforts to deal with the problems, such as private security, don’t help because the thieves have learned they won’t be physically stopped or arrested.

As the CEO explained,

It’s sad, but San Francisco appears to have descended into a city of chaos. Many streets and parks are overrun with drugs, criminals, and homelessness, and local leadership and law enforcement enable it through inaction. One of the most beautiful and amazing cities in the world is now a place where many no longer feel safe visiting or living.

“We opened a retail store a year ago on Hayes Street, the charming shopping district just blocks away from the famous Full House home. Our first week there, our windows were smashed and thousands of dollars of product was stolen. We replaced the window, and it immediately happened again (four times). We replaced with window with plywood as we waited for a month+ to get a metal security gate installed (demand for those gates is creating huge delays). As of today, we are closing the store due to rampant organized theft and lack of safety for our team. Our store is hit by organized theft rings several times per week. They brazenly enter the store and grab thousands of dollars of product and walk out. We started keeping the door locked and opening it only for customers, but even then, they’ll have a woman go to the door, and then hiding individuals rush into the store as soon as the door opens. Our team is terrified. They feel unsafe. Security guards don’t help because these theft rings know that security guards won’t/can’t stop them. It’s impossible for a retail store to operate in these circumstances, especially when cities refuse to take any action (despite us paying taxes well above any other state we operate in). The city recently announced a reduction of police presence in this neighborhood, despite mass-scale crime.

The CEO’s own family personally suffered from the city’s rampant property crime and disorder:

It makes me sad that I’m now avoiding San Francisco, a city I used to love. Last time my wife and I went in 2020, a drugged up person ran up to my wife’s face and started screaming some of the most obscene things I’ve ever heard. She was terrified. During a previous trip, my rental car was broken into and everything was stolen out of our trunk. When calling the police to report the theft, they let us know this happens hundreds of times per day in the city and said it was our own fault for parking in the street. I grew up in Latin America and spent much of my adult life there, and I never felt this unsafe there. Something has to change in San Francisco.

As Sexton notes, the CEO in question is a progressive, with a circle of left-leaning acquaintances. One of them wrote this in response to Smith’s lament on social media: “what if instead of treating property and capital as more important than humans, we start investing in affordable housing, social services for low-income and dispossessed peoples…” In response, Smith touted his own progressive views:

Tylo, I’m the first to agree that capitalism needs to change. This is why we are a B-Corp and have used our profits from day 1 to create a more equal world (we assisted nearly 1.3 million living in poverty last year). I also disagree with violence in all forms. That said, I have a sincere question. Why aren’t we seeing these same extreme outcomes in other cities?

As he noted, the company also has stores in cities like Denver and Salt Lake City, but those stores haven’t been robbed or looted. San Francisco is in a class all its own for this problem. Another progressive responded to Smith by saying, “more police won’t help.” Davis responded, “When there is no law, it’s hard to create opportunities. Police are needed, unfortunately.”

LU Staff

LU Staff

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