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The new SF theme song for retailers: ‘I lost my shirt, in San Francisco . . .’
sf shoplift
A frame from a phone video of a criminal who rode his bicycle into a San Francisco Walgreens to shoplift by filling a garbage bag with goods.

There is a big difference between San Francisco sensibilities and those residing in the hinterlands.

In Manteca they actually arrest those involved in organized retail theft on a fairly regular basis.

San Francisco’s city leadership spends its energy incredulously blaming the victims and painting them as greedy corporations putting profits above people when they throw in the towel and close stores due to excessive and never ending retail losses.

Back in August several thieves walked into the Ulta beauty supply store in Manteca and stuffed black garbage bags with $12,000 worth of cosmetics before fleeing.

Later the same day three Sacramento residents and one from Berkeley entered the same store in the Stadium Retail Center on the northwest corner of the Airport Way and 120 Bypass interchange.

The grabbed $3,500 in high end perfumes before leaving the store.

The second time Manteca Police were in a better position to respond.

The four in the second incident were arrested.

It was thanks in no small part to the Manteca Police Department’s emphasis on targeting organized retail crime by having a detective committed to such thefts.

It is no small detail. No other law enforcement agency in the area has such a dedicated position. And while they certainly don’t dismiss shoplifting as a crime, Manteca has one leg up on it by having some in the police department working with the targets of organized retail crime to reduce their vulnerability and to go after culprits.

Shoplifting was at epidemic proportions in California and the rest of the nation before 2014. After the passage of Proposition 47 that was viewed as one of the first success stories in the social justice movement, shoplifting in the Golden State zoomed to pandemic levels.

The reason was the initiative lifted the minimum threshold for store thefts to be charged as a felony to $950.

It means unless those caught stealing run from the police in a manner to constitute a felonious crime or took more than $950 of goods the most they will get is a ticket and then be turned loose.

Manteca, unlike many jurisdictions, did not simply throw up their hands and declare they were powerless. Instead the police department focused on how they could best address the issue of retail theft. That’s why they dedicated a detective to organized retail theft.

The police department has a long history of not only working with the business community but also constantly re-examining how they go about their primary mission of serving and protecting. The department recognized early on the emergence of a trend of increased organized retail theft taking advantage of how law enforcement de-emphasized shoplifting enforcement due to Proposition 47.

Shoplifting is still a crime but as a misdemeanor it dropped down the priority list for many law enforcement agencies.

That’s key because organized retail theft crews at first kept shoplifting incidents under the $950 threshold for the most part. But as the “heat” decreased they saw little risk at being caught so they upped the ante scooping up more merchandise of a greater combined value whir every store the hit.

Shoplifting is not a new phenomenon when it comes to racking up theft numbers that are off the chart.

The National Association for Retail for Shoplifting Prevention pegged national loses at $49 billion in 2018. The impact on business and ultimately the price consumers pay for goods is staggering. Shoplifting costs apparel stores the equivalent of 2.93 percent of their annual sales. For supermarkets and such it is 2.43 percent.

Specific store numbers are hard to get unless corporations what to share them. That is what JC Penney did in 2010 after they had been working with Manteca Police to reduce their losses. The store that opened in 2008 in Manteca shared they had suffered in excess of $600,000 in retail losses in 2009.

When asked back then about the amount as it seemed out of line based on the overall theft losses for the city that were just over $3.2 million for the year, JCP Penney officials provided the obvious answer.

The theft loss reported to police reflects only incidents where suspects were observed committing a crime. Given some place the odds of a shoplifting getting caught in the act and arrested at 1 in a 100 it is a clear a lot of the losses and incidents never make their way into official crime reporting numbers. And since the chances of being arrested are likely even slimmer now that California is an official ticket-and-go-on-your-merry-way state, shoplifting has clearly accelerated.

So when San Francisco officials in their woke social justice role of slamming the victims to protect the criminals by saying the statistics the city collects from firms like Walgreen’s are essentially making a mountain of a molehill they are either ignorant of how things work in the un-woke world or they are disingenuous.

Walgreens has now closed 22 stores or more than half of their brick and mortar presence in San Francisco. Since 2016 after Proposition 47’s passage started changing the shoplifting landscape, thefts at Walgreens San Francisco locations have been quadruple the National average for their stores.

At the same time Walgreens spends 35 times more on security guards for its San Francisco stores than it does at locations elsewhere.

This is not just a Walgreens thing. CVS reported their 12 San Francisco stores are hit with 42 percent of their overall shoplifting losses for the Bay Area although they account for 8 percent of the sales of the regional market.

The fact it is even more supercharged in The City as opposed to say Los Angeles has everything to do with the perfect combination of laws aimed at wholesale social justice being wed with prosecutorial and elected officials that don’t believe the laws have been diluted far enough.

Earlier this week the City of San Francisco that is also being slammed with sky rocketing auto burglaries due to social justice efforts to reduce consequences for — and enforcement of — various crimes, posted rewards up to $200,000 leading to the arrest and conviction of those participating in auto burglary crime rings.

It seems the powers that be are worried tourists and visitors are getting the “wrong” message about San Francisco.

Actually they are getting the right message.

Virginia may be for lovers, but San Francisco is for criminals.



 This column is the opinion of editor, Dennis Wyatt, and does not necessarily represent the opinions of The Bulletin or 209 Multimedia. He can be reached at