Retail stores in the Bay Area are all too familiar with thefts, which seem to be getting increasingly more brazen as people opt for higher quantities stolen through less clandestine and progressively more destructive behavior. But a burglary caught on camera in a Walgreens in San Francisco’s Richmond District was odd enough to still turn some heads.

ABC 7's Dion Lim, who at this point is essentially the station's Walgreens theft beat reporter, brings us the story of yet another brazen Walgreens shoplifting incident caught on camera, and this one devolves quickly. The video shows two workers behind the counter at Walgreens, waving their hands to draw attention and using a landline to call police as a man grabs items behind the same counter and tosses them in a large tote bag that he appears to have brought with him.

The masked and hooded thief moved to the counter to take things from it, even as employees stood feet or even inches away. At one point, he leaned directly over a worker on the phone as he collected as many items as he could.

The workers were rightfully scared to engage — the thief aggressively thwacked a phone from the hands of someone he caught recording the incident. Even still, professional photographer Nicholas Stennet kept his phone’s camera rolling as the man took things like coronavirus test kits and batteries. What he captured next was supremely unexpected.

The customer whose phone the man had hit from his hand tries to intervene, and the burglar turns violent quickly, chucking bananas at the man and threatening to fight him. The customer then grabs his own bananas and flings them toward the thief, despite pleas from employees for him to put them down. The suspect had been walking out of the store, but in response to resistance from the customer, he turns back, grabs a package of Chips Ahoy cookies, and hurls them right back before leaving.  

Another woman captured in the background of the video who witnessed the fight was also on the phone, appearing to call law enforcement to report the assault. Unfortunately, no one arrived in time to stop the man.

San Francisco Supervisor Ahsha Safai says 17 Walgreens locations have closed in the city in the past five years — and the company has at times blamed rampant shoplifting, though there are clearly larger corporate priorities and a national retail apocalypse at play (and Walgreens announced back in 2017 that it had plans to close 600 locations nationwide). Five of the SF Walgreens closures happened in 2021 alone.

Photo by Stephanie Rhee on Unsplash