A suspect who was arrested Saturday in connection with multiple Walgreens and CVS robberies — allegedly conducted in plain sight of staff and security guards — has been charged with 15 counts of robbery, grand theft, and burglary.
The suspect, 40-year-old Jean Lugo-Romero, was arrested Saturday morning by Northern Station officers after allegedly attempting to rob the CVS at 499 Haight Street. Now, as the Examiner reports via the District Attorney's Office, Lugo-Romero has been formerly charged, and his charges include two robberies at this same location.
Police say Lugo-Romero is the man who was seen in the now nationally viral video posted to Twitter on June 14 by ABC 7 reporter Lyanne Melendez. In the video, the suspect is seen clearing shelves of the Walgreens at Gough and Fell into a garbage bag, and then riding his Lyft bike past a security guard out the door. According to the DA's office, Lugo-Romero has hit this same store five times since May 11.
While the nature of crimes — especially petty theft and burglary — shifted during the pandemic, the perception that crime in San Francisco has skyrocketed in the last year is not backed up by the data. (Burglaries were up in a few neighborhoods, but many other types of crime were down.)
Walgreens has complained about shoplifting in its is SF stores in recent years, but the company actually announced the closure of 200 stores nationwide back in August 2019. That decision came after the company's quarterly earnings dropped 25 percent — and Hoodline reported in February 2020 that the SF store closures were part of a larger strategy, but the choice of stores to close might not have been entirely without consideration to the theft-loss issue, which the 730 Market Street location claimed was around $1,000 per day.
Police have said that there is a clear connection between thefts like those Lugo-Romero is accused of and the rise in a secondary market for particular goods, like cosmetics.
"Local businesses and neighborhood stores are the backbone of our community, and we are working to protect San Francisco stores and consumers,” District Attorney Chesa Boudin said in a statement following Lugo-Romero's charges.