The ride is over for the fellow who rode his bike into a Walgreens and gained viral video infamy for purloining a trash bag full of cosmetics, but his guilty plea and 16-month prison sentence are unlikely to satisfy DA Boudin’s critics.
The initiative to recall San Francisco District attorney Chesa Boudin had not yet qualified for the ballot on a Monday afternoon last June, when KGO reporter Lyanne Melendez posted a Walgreens shoplifting video that would eventually get more than six million views and make international headlines. But there were two separate groups trying to recall Boudin via two separate campaigns at that time, and the incident galvanized Boudin’s critics and helped promote the “shoplifter’s paradise” narrative about San Francisco in conservative media.
It didn’t help matters when the same suspect, Jean Lugo-Romero, was arrested for shoplifting at another Walgreens less than a week later, and it came out that he’s shoplifted from eight different Walgreens stores, including five times in about a month at the Hayes Valley Walgreens where the viral video was shot. So clearly he had an established pattern.
But he was charged with 15 counts of robbery, grand theft and burglary. And according to a Monday release from DA Boudin’s office, Lugo-Romero “pled guilty to felony grand theft and misdemeanor petty theft and was sentenced to 16 months prison and one year probation.”
“Whether the work of organized retail theft rings or of individual suspects, the burglaries impacting our local businesses will not be tolerated,” District Attorney Boudin said in a release. “The sentence and verdicts handed down are just one way we are working to hold individuals accountable for harm caused by retail theft in San Francisco. We are also continuing our work with partner agencies to dismantle the organized networks which make these crimes profitable.”
In addition to the 16 months in a state prison and the probation terms, the release says Lugo-Romero “has been given a stay away order from two Walgreens employees, two Walgreens stores, and one CVS store.” The release also notes that on Friday, a separate suspect Ahmad Shabazz was found guilty on 13 counts of misdemeanor petty theft for a separate string of Walgreens robberies.
The fact that the infamous bike-riding Walgreens shoplifter pleaded guilty and is off to prison will probably not change the dynamics of the ongoing recall discourse, or the debate on whether crime is up or down in San Francisco. But it does bring closure to one of them more curious small-time shoplifting incidents the city has seen in years, and for at least the duration of Lugo-Romero’s grand theft prison sentence, he’s not going to steal the spotlight in any more viral videos.
Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images