Walgreens closes five more San Francisco stores, citing "organized retail crime"

Originally published at: Walgreens closes five more San Francisco stores, citing "organized retail crime" | Boing Boing


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Why don’t they just put everything behind a counter ala car parts stores?



Yeah that phrasing makes it sound like they’re getting shakedowns from the Gotti family instead of dealing with impoverished people stealing baby formula.


They could have put the majority of otc stuff and merchandise in vending machines and only have in person pharmacists working (behind a safety barrier) at their stores instead of closing up shop completely.


I’m reminded of the context that wasn’t provided the last time this moral panic over shoplifting came up:

archive link:


Pardon me if I don’t believe a single word Walgreens has to say about why they are closing stores.


Whatever the fate that befalls Walgreens, they deserve it and then some.


Good article, thanks for posting it. I had my doubts about the “organized” part of this story, and it’s clear now that Walgreen’s is the real criminal here and is trying to redirect attention elsewhere by hurting communities full of employees they’ve ripped off.


They do have locked clear plastic doors over the shelves of certain items at many stores in SF. You have to call an employee to open them, which is convenient because there’s never anybody around.


I’m sure that they’re not closing the stores because there are much more profitable uses for the real estate. /s


That is super labor intensive and can’t serve many people. Also they have a much higher mark up in automotive stores.

AP reports that Walmart had to shut down one store that had been losing $1,000 every day to shoplifting.

For larger stores, that really isn’t a huge number. Especially if that is net and not actual cost.

It is hard to fault people stealing too much if they are stealing necessities. There are others who steal items they can later resell, which is less forgivable.

I am completely devastated by this news - this Walgreens is less than a mile from seven schools and has been a staple for seniors, families and children for decades. This closure will significantly impact this community.

So is CVS going to move in to the areas? There are so many CVSs right near Walgreens in my area. Sometimes literally across the street.


Bingo. Physical retail is a game that is about getting the most money from each square foot. They might be able to get more cash from selling the places rather than trying to make it up over the course of 20 years.


ive seen post offices that operate this way. thick plexiglass extending from the ceiling down to the counter tops. packages slid through with a double sided door and a plexiglass rod that ensures only one side can be open at a time

i figure usps deals with at least as many items per day as a walgreens, so it seems doable

i suspect if they really wanted to deal with shoplifting though they’d lobby for rent control and affordable housing

( but then i guess we could also well regulate our guns to avoid the need for post offices that feel like a warzone )


What I wonder is how much of the theft is also done by employees? My husband was advised to monitor his blood pressure and we bought a monitor at CVS ($85). The box was wrapped with an antit-theft device when we took it up to the cashier. However, we discovered a scented candle ($3.50) in the box when when got home. When I called the store, they seemed unsurprised but stressed that it had to have been done in the middle of the night by a customer.

Not sure how the customer was able to bypass the security device without breaking the device, or ruining the box and the security tape?


Organized crime makes some sense. In the videos I’ve seen they indiscriminately steal, for example, every style of makeup–not things a family could reasonably consume. I imagine they have some way to unload it. If that’s true, it doesn’t sound like the laws they’re complaining about would address and the police would have something to say. With organized crime, the people out front are usually disposable.

The same author of the SF Chronicle article had a podcast episode about this:

It’s really annoying when journalists just republish what’s handed to them as gospel. For example, Walgreens claiming stores are closing due to shoplifting, but that SF closings are in line with the rest of the country, they had already announced nation-wide downsizing, not really any followup about “organized crime.”


So, Walgreens attached a dollar figure to the impact and attribute the losses to shoplifting. Since the dollar loss cannot be attributable to shoplifters who are caught in the act, that leaves shoplifters who are observed getting away — and ones who get away without being seen… an assumption. So, what about thefts by employees? (One figure I saw places employee thefts as being greater than that of shoplifting.) Given Walgreen’s labor law violations, I’d think that its disgruntled employees would be well primed for thievery.


It’s not always impoverished people. I once saw an organized group raid the supermarket and throw two-three shopping carts of formula into a nice SUV and take off.


That’s not at all what’s leading to this. The law says that anything below $950- is a misdemeanor. So steal less than that to resell and you’re good…


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Ah, but how do you know that the group wasn’t planning on donating the formula to a women’s shelter, instead of selling the items on {craigslist, ebay, facebook marketplace} for a quick buck?