Shoplifting in California Causing Stores to Close Early or Shut Down Completely

Shoppers wear protective masks inside a Target Corp. store in New York, U.S., Aug. 15, 2020. Photo Source: Shoppers wear protective masks inside a Target Corp. store in New York, U.S., file photo, Aug. 15, 2020. (Jeenah Moon/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

There has been an increase in the amount of shoplifting in major California cities like Los Angeles, Sacramento, and San Francisco, which have the highest rates of shoplifting in the country. This is leading to stores closing early or closing completely.

For example, in San Francisco, Target stores are open from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. There is even a Target store in San Francisco’s Financial District that is closing at 5 p.m. on Saturdays. Some places have even had to close down permanently. Stores usually open around 7 a.m. or 8 a.m. and close around 10 p.m.

A Target spokesperson confirmed in a statement that the early closing times in San Francisco are due to the increase in shoplifting: "For more than a month, we’ve been experiencing a significant and alarming rise in theft and security incidents at our San Francisco stores, similar to reports from other retailers in the area.

"Target is engaging local law enforcement, elected officials and community partners to address our concerns. With the safety of our guests, team members and communities as our top priority, we've temporarily reduced our operating hours in six San Francisco stores."

"This has been a problem going on for years. We have been diligently trying to find solutions to this, including pending legislation to continue funding for the Organized Retail Task Force. We are trying to attack it from all different ways. Our priority is the safety of our employees and consumers. We can’t have our security guards going after this – they are not law enforcement," CRA President and CEO Rachel Michelin said in a statement.

Walgreens has also closed several locations. Some security guards have been told to not confront shoplifters.

This increase in shoplifting is not helped by Proposition 47, which was passed in 2014. It made stealing anything valued at $950 or less a misdemeanor. This rule is also rarely enforced, so there can be more focus on more “serious” crimes, which means that shoplifters will steal without worrying about the consequences.

In 2019, Cassie, 21, a mother of two and former heroin addict, told Fox News that she would often shoplift to help make ends meet. "If my babies need diapers or formula, who is going to get that for me? No one. I have to do it," she said. "They ain't out here arresting people for (shoplifting) and everyone knows it."

Proposition 47 was passed to reduce non-violent felonies to misdemeanors and have police and prosecutors focus on more violent crimes. There has been an increase in shoplifting across California since Proposition 47 passed.

Retailers have been affected negatively. In 2019, Spoiled Boutique owner Mika McCants told Fox News that she was worried about shoplifting, especially at night. "I've had situations where I've had to call the authorities."

In 2019, Jassi Dhillon, 7-Eleven franchise owner in San Diego County, said that he has dealt with shoplifting at all six of his locations. "It's happening every day, hour by hour," he said.

Dhillon said the police do not prioritize shoplifting. When the police arrive, the shoplifter has either already fled the scene or is not worried about the citation that has been released.

"It's becoming a lifestyle for us now because we can't do anything much except take the loss," he said.

Rachel Michelin, president of the California Retailers Association, said that shoplifting not only hurts businesses but it is also "becoming a public safety issue for consumers." She said that black market dealers will a lot of times cross state lines because they know that they will not be punished harshly if caught.

"They know what they're doing. They will bring in calculators and get all the way up to the $950 limit," Michelin told Fox News, saying that "one person will go into a store, fill up their backpack, come out, dump it out and go right back in and do it all over again."

Catherine Kimble
Catherine Kimble
Catherine graduated from the University of Louisiana at Lafayette with a Bachelor's Degree in Political Science with a minor in English. In her spare time, she enjoys reading, watching Netflix, and hanging out with friends. Neal Shusterman is one of her favorite authors. Some of her favorite shows on Netflix are New Girl, Stranger Things, and Money Heist.