As a number of major U.S. cities continue to grapple with the problem of violent, orchestrated retail theft, Safeway in San Francisco is rolling out restrictive solutions it hopes will stop the shoplifting mobs.
Customers entering one Safeway location near San Francisco’s Castro district are now greeted with metal gates that swing shut and lock behind them, preventing anyone from making a break for it with a shopping cart full of items, according to the San Francisco Chronicle. The self-checkout area is now surrounded by barriers to direct customers through a single exit, un-staffed checkouts are blocked off with metal barriers and the side entrance to the store is entirely blocked off.
The measures have not gone unnoticed by customers, with one overheard by the Chronicle describing the store location as “getting weirder and weirder.” Others interviewed said they did not have concerns about the changes, saying they made things seem more organized and did not impede the shopping experience.
Safeway’s enhanced security measures come in the wake of an explosion in brazen, flash-mob style shoplifting.
The week of Thanksgiving, locations of Nordstrom, Lululemon, Louis Vuitton, Bloomingdale’s, Burberry and Neiman Marcus in major markets were all targeted and ransacked by organized mobs of shoplifters.
Even before the high-profile spate of holiday incidents, some retailers had begun making changes to their operations in some markets in response to this type of crime. Walgreens, for instance, closed five San Francisco locations due to an unsustainable rate of theft.
Best Buy recently said that a high rate of organized shoplifting was putting pressure on its bottom line, according to Axios. The chain is experiencing a nationwide problem but pointed to Northern California as a theft hotspot.
While store closures, limited hours and now the installation of gates and barriers represent some of the ways retailers are trying to get their arms around this problem, others have begun experimenting with more creative, higher-tech loss prevention solutions.
Home Depot, for instance, has begun using a system that makes power tools useless for resale unless first activated via Bluetooth at checkout.
- S.F. Safeway adds barriers to deter shoplifting amid Bay Area retail theft debate – San Francisco Chronicle
- Mob thefts rock retail, what can stores do? – RetailWire
- Best Buy sees spike in shoplifting, pressuring profits – Axios
- Home Depot turns off thieves’ power to use or sell stolen tools – RetailWire