A Safeway grocery store in San Francisco, California, has redesigned the front end of its store to mitigate shoplifting and smash and grab mobs.
"This Safeway is getting weirder and weirder," one shopper told San Francisco Chronicle who walked through a newly installed electronic gate at the entrance of the store. The gates allow customers to enter the store but prevent looters from running out with a cart full of stolen items.
Barriers were added throughout the checkout area, directing customers leaving the store into a single file line. Unused checkout aisles were blocked with large physical barriers. The store's side entrance was blocked by a new display of heavy plastic water bottles.
"Like other local businesses, we are working on ways to curtail escalating theft to ensure the wellbeing of our employees and to foster a welcoming environment for our customers. Their safety remains our top priority," Wendy Gutshall, director of public and government affairs for Safeway's Northern California Division, said in an emailed statement.
"These long-planned security improvements were implemented with those goals in mind," Gutshall said.
Safeway has yet to roll out the new security measures at other stores. The one on 2020 Market St appears to be a pilot test. It also reduced operating hours -- now closing at 9 pm to prevent late-night thefts.
Other stores like Home Depot, CVS, Target, and Best Buy have been crushed by flash mobs across California in recent weeks. Readers may recall that a criminal gang raided a San Francisco-area Nordstrom at the end of November, stealing hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of items. There has also been a flash mob raid of a Louis Vuitton store in The Bay Area.
We have routinely pointed out that progressive laws to downgrade retail theft of less than $950 worth of goods from a felony to a misdemeanor has led to an uncontrollable surge in looting, forcing some retailers to abandon the metro area.