Increase in SF Downtown Crime Indicative of Growing Drug Epidemic, Claims Former Security Guard and Addict

By S. Priana Aquino

SAN FRANCISCO, CA —The recent announcement of Target store hours being shortened in the Bay Area was met with annoyance by customers, and there are complaints of being inconvenienced by the schedule shifting that now required them to grab groceries and other necessities.

However, what was unknown is the changes are Target’s way of desperately trying to mitigate the rise in shoplifting incidents that occur in their stores.

Other stores in downtown San Francisco have also experienced an uptick in shoplifting, spurring increases in their security measures across the Bay Area.

“We’re talking about professional shoplifters that steal, sometimes up to $10,000 a day from downtown San Francisco stores and sell that through a network of criminal organizations,” said Ben Dugan, director of organized retail crime at CVS.

The reason for this increase in crime? Former Target security guard, Rafael Gutierrez, attributes it to individuals who are suffering from addiction or homelessness.

The current drug epidemic in San Francisco has fueled the spike in shoplifting as an easy way to make money, said Gutierrez, who has overcome addiction himself and feels sorry for those who have resorted to committing theft.

He feels that the city made it too easy to steal.

“Changing the times didn’t do anything but affect us and the customers, who are upset about it, and the shoplifters still get what they want every day,” Gutierrez said. “At 9 o’clock, they’re waiting for us to open.”

While shoplifting is usually a non-violent crime, more and more of these instances have resulted in dangerous situations, he said.

“Everyone’s scared, customers are scared,” Gutierrez said, speaking of an incident where a woman smashed wine bottles on the floor and grabbed an elderly man’s cane, nearly knocking him to the ground.

After 52 days of working at Target, Gutierrez resigned from his job, citing unsafe working conditions.

This unfortunate scenario is not the responsibility of District Attorney, Chesa Boudin.

Instead, said the former security guard, it is a clear sign that more resources should be made available for those in the community fighting addiction, some of whom may also be homeless.

“It’s hard now to ask for help because you’re able to keep feeding that addiction, and now you’re able to walk into a shopping center, grab whatever you like, and walk right out,” Gutierrez said.

“Everyone deserves to go into a store and shop and feel safe,” he said.

About The Author

S. Priana Aquino is a rising Senior at the University of San Francisco, majoring in Business with minors in Legal Studies and Public Service & Community Engagement. Upon graduation, she hopes to attend law school and continue her work in uplifting and advocating for communities of color.

Related posts

5 Comments

  1. Alan Miller

    However, what was unknown is the changes are Target’s way of desperately trying to mitigate the rise in shoplifting incidents that occur in their stores.

    I fail to see how this is ‘unknown’ considering it has made national news.

    “We’re talking about professional shoplifters that steal, sometimes up to $10,000 a day from downtown San Francisco stores and sell that through a network of criminal organizations,”

    I’m sure he’s just saying that.

    The reason for this increase in crime? Former Target security guard, Rafael Gutierrez, attributes it to individuals who are suffering from addiction or homelessness.

    What a concept!

    The current drug epidemic in San Francisco has fueled the spike in shoplifting as an easy way to make money,

    Yup.

    said Gutierrez, who has overcome addiction himself and feels sorry for those who have resorted to committing theft.  He feels that the city made it too easy to steal.

    he feels sorry for them, but feels the city has made it too easy to steal.  Hmmmmmmm . . . . .

    While shoplifting is usually a non-violent crime, more and more of these instances have resulted in dangerous situations, he said.

    Broken windows, anyone?

    “It’s hard now to ask for help because you’re able to keep feeding that addiction, and now you’re able to walk into a shopping center, grab whatever you like, and walk right out,”

    So this makes it easier to continue to be an addict, fueled by the failed policies of decriminalizing crime.

    “Everyone deserves to go into a store and shop and feel safe,”

    Yup.

      1. Alan Miller

        Or be prepared to argue your point better…

        DG’s fans are setting off fireworks in celebration of that zinger 😐   He really got you there, KO.  I’m sure you’ll be challenged to come up with a wittier reply than that.  “Make your point better”.  Ah HA HA HA . . . Ha . . ha . . ha . . . . . . . . .     ha

        1. David Greenwald

          Perhaps but the overall crime data does not bear out the criticism of the SF DA. Moreover, what this story shows is that the problem is on the front end – enforcement and lack of arrests – DAs don’t have control over that, they only have charging decisions which appear in line with past practices in this area. But it’s easier to take quips than argue nuanced data.

Leave a Reply

X Close

Newsletter Sign-Up

X Close

Monthly Subscriber Sign-Up

Enter the maximum amount you want to pay each month
$ USD
Sign up for