Target Corp. has temporarily shortened operating hours at its five San Francisco store locations due to concerns surrounding a sharp increase in incidents of theft.
“For more than a month, we’ve been experiencing a significant and alarming rise in theft and security incidents at our San Francisco stores, similar to reports from other retailers in the area. Target is engaging local law enforcement, elected officials and community partners to address our concerns,” a Target spokesperson said in a statement to MarketWatch.
stores in the city will now be open from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. There’s no word on when store hours will return to regular operating times, which span from 9 a.m. to either 9 p.m. or 10 p.m.
San Francisco Mayor London Breed, speaking with the Bay Area’s local CBS News affiliate, said, “Cutting hours is not a solution.”
“I think part of it is a combination of us working together and them having the right security and right staffing in order to make sure there is a better customer experience,” she said.
Target’s response comes after a brazen shoplifter at a Walgreens
location in San Francisco was caught on video filling a trash bag with merchandise and then riding a bike out of the store.
See: Walgreens shoplifter fills trash bag with stolen goods and bikes out of store
There’s also video this week of a group running out of a Neiman Marcus department store in San Francisco with apparently stolen goods in hand.
Rachel Michelin, president and chief executive of the California Retailers Association, said such incidents have been a problem for some time. “The issue of organized retail crime, particularly in San Francisco but statewide, has been an issue for years,” she said. “California is kind of a hot spot for retail theft.”
Michelin said her group has worked with local and state lawmakers, and there is a network of local and statewide task forces that has gotten $5.7 million in funding to tackle the problem. There is also a bill making its way through the state’s legislative process to address the issue.
“[N]ow there’s video and people are appalled it’s happening,” Michelin said.
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Retailers have tried adding private security guards, who are meant to “observe and report” rather than confront shoplifters, Michelin told MarketWatch. Other retailers have simply shuttered stores.
Michelin said she blames “crime rings” for the spike, saying these groups will enlist “vulnerable people” like juveniles and the homeless and pay them to shoplift. The association’s effort has included outreach to community leaders in hope of reaching those who might be coerced into committing these crimes, she said.
Small businesses that rely on the foot traffic generated by mass retailers are also impacted by these crimes, Michelin said.
“National retailers can absorb some of this,” she said because they have e-commerce operations.
“When you start seeing stores limit their hours, that has a ripple effect on small businesses.”
Target’s stock has gained 40.4% for the year to date, while the S&P 500 index
is up 16.1% for the period,