Shoplifting incidents reported to SFPD doubled in September! But the increase all came from one Target store, then the spike completely disappeared the next month, and what can we even believe anymore.

There's plenty of misinformation out there on the topic of shoplifting in San Francisco, like the time when right-wing media reported that the Target at the Metreon was closing becuase of crime. But it turns out that even the most reliable crime information can, in fact, also be misinformation. The Chronicle published another of its famed deep dives into crime statistics today, using SFPD reported crime data, the supposed gold standard in the great crime debates. And the data singles out  — guess who?  — the Target at the Metreon.

The Chron found that reported San Francisco shoplifting incidents doubled in the month of September 2021. Sounds bad! But that spike completely disappeared the following month. And then there’s another crazy insight in that reported data.

“A closer look at the data shows that the spike in reported shoplifting came almost entirely from one store: the Target at 789 Mission St. in the Metreon mall,” the Chron reports. “In September alone, 154 shoplifting reports were filed from the South of Market intersection where the Target stands, up from 13 in August. And then, in October, the reports from this intersection went down again to 17.”

A Target spokespeson told the Chron the September shoplifting surge is attributed entirely to a new reporting system wherein they could report shoplifting by phone. The spokesperson did not respond to a question on how their sudden surge disappeared the following month.  

The loudest voices in the room are all going to insist that this proves that their theories on crime in San Francisco are the only true and correct interpretation. It seems the bigger takeaway here is that the SFPD crime data dashboard, whose results SFist has embedded in like a zillion different articles, may itself be prone to statistical swings and unreliable data. Its results show what could be legitimate crime trends, or data blips that might just be an unexpected item in the bagging area.

Related: SF Target Stores Closing Early Due to Crime [SFist]

Image: Lambert P. via Yelp