SFPD is hailing it as proof that their crackdown is working that both internal and external data show a decline in San Francisco retail theft, though it’s not yet a long-term trend, and the findings could just be statistical noise.
The San Francisco Police Department is tooting their own horn today over a “blitz” operation that arrested 17 shoplifting suspects in one day at the Target at Mission and Fourth streets. “On Tuesday, November 28, 2023, the operation, named ‘Blitz ‘23’ was successful in arresting a total of seventeen adult suspects listed below,” SFPD said in a press release. “Two of the suspects had outstanding arrest warrants. The stolen property was seized by officers during the operation and returned to the store.”
A shoplifting operation named "Blitz 23" was successful in arresting 17 adult suspects. 2 had outstanding warrants and stolen property was seized and returned to the business. We will continue to conduct these operations throughout San Francisco. ➡️ https://t.co/YoZuHTJzKc pic.twitter.com/CNF1ScuCEo— San Francisco Police (@SFPD) November 30, 2023
SFPD didn’t mention that it was Target where this operation was conducted. But the Chronicle reported this detail, in their larger analysis saying that retail theft is down in San Francisco. Or at least, that’s what SFPD data says, and that conclusion is seconded by a new independent report that says retail theft has dropped by 35% compared to last year.
Has San Francisco turned the corner on retail theft? New reports suggest that it has. https://t.co/tp7yucalNj— San Francisco Chronicle (@sfchronicle) November 30, 2023
“We are also sensing a palpable improvement in the streets, just in time for the holidays,” Union Square Alliance CEO Marisa Rodriguez told the Chronicle. “These statistics are trending in the right direction and align with our strong momentum.”
And it’s not just Union Square, which had regrettably become famed for high-profile smash-and-grab incidents, but has since been well-bolstered with patrol officers. According to the Chron’s read on SFPD data, the decline in theft is citywide.
“Larceny cases over Thanksgiving weekend were down about 75% from last year, with 100 reported thefts compared with 401 in 2022,” the Chronicle says using SFPD’s reported statistics. “For the whole Thanksgiving week, there were 206 reports of theft versus 747 last year. Compared to 2021, when the city made national headlines when luxury stores were looted by large crowds in November, reported thefts over the holiday weekend dropped 80%.”
San Francisco has seen a major increase in police officers around Union Square this holiday season to deter theft. https://t.co/e4O16Ey0EK— CBS News Bay Area (@KPIXtv) November 30, 2023
This conclusion is backed by an independent, third-party analysis from the Council on Criminal Justice that found San Francisco has seen a 35% decline in retail theft in the first half of 2023 compared to the first half of 2022. Though that is not a long-term trend, and it’s essentially just a return to pre-pandemic theft levels.
And shop owners are not all in agreement that shoplifting is down. “We don’t get the wholesale shoplifting in our stores, but we have lots and lots of shoplifting and it is from all segments and all demographics,” Cole Hardware owner Rick Karp told the Chronicle. “We have a lot of stuff locked down and in security cases with hooks and locks on them, but whatever is loose and can go, often does go.”
Image: Andrew D. via Yelp