CA Retailer's Association president calls out DA Chesa Boudin amid SF's spike in organized crime

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- The president of the California Retailers Association says the solution to San Francisco's organized theft problem lies, in part, with District Attorney Chesa Boudin, who she says has made it clear he won't prosecute suspects in these types of crimes.

A now-viral video shared with ABC7 News on Tuesday shows a band of suspected thieves running out of the San Francisco Neiman Marcus, carrying several designer handbags and jumping into getaway cars.



"Unfortunately this issue has been around for a while," said President of the California Retailers Association Rachel Michelin.

Michelin says San Francisco is now starting to see the long-term effects of the uptick in organized crime.

RELATED: Target, Walgreens make drastic changes due to increase in San Francisco thefts

"Now we're starting to see real consequences, which is stores closing early, stores locking their doors and really, an environment where it seems as if there are no repercussions for these types of behavior for these criminals doing these types of thefts," she said.

And the issue isn't just a San Francisco one, she said

"It's a national issue," Michelin said.

Though as the largest state, the numbers tend to be much higher in California, she said.

Now as far as a solution?

VIDEO: Thief steals garbage bag full of items from SF Walgreens with security filming in plain sight
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Cell phone video taken Monday shows some of the brazen crime that has been driving retailers out of San Francisco.



"The answer really lies, I think partially, with the district attorney and the fact that he's made it clear he will not prosecute many of these crimes," she said. "When people hear that, they look at San Francisco and think they can commit these crimes and there will not be any consequences for their behavior."

She's now asking for a discussion between local leaders, law enforcement and the district attorney to address the problem.

"We need to roll up our sleeves and find a strategy to benefit the residents of San Francisco and businesses that are there," Michelin said.

On top of the direct impact on big chain retailers, Michelin worries about the impact on employees and customers.

She says employees might have their hours cut because of a store closing early, like Target.

"Think about the employees working in that store, think about the customers and the impact that brazen crime had on them," she said.

She's also worried about small businesses that open up near a chain retailer, in hopes of seeing a spike in sales.

RELATED: SF Walgreens stores average 4x more thefts than rest of country, company says

The theft at Neiman Marcus is just the latest in a string of retail crimes in San Francisco.

Target announced earlier this month it will now be closing all five of its San Francisco stores at 6 p.m. because of shoplifting and the alarming rise in crime.

Walgreens has also shut the doors of several San Francisco stores because of rampant crime.

"The answer is not what the mayor said last week, which was retailers just need to hire more security guards," Michelin told ABC7 earlier this week. "That's not going to solve the problem. Security guards are there to observe and report. They're not there to stop crime. That's law enforcement. We have to figure out a way in San Francisco for law enforcement and local officials to work together."

Thursday night the ABC7 News I-Team talked to San Francisco District Attorney Chesa Boudin, and he responded to comments that his office doesn't prosecute retail theft cases. The President and CEO of the California Retailers Association made those comments on ABC7 News at 3 p.m. Wednesday in part in response to video of a handbag heist from Neiman Marcus this week. Boudin says there is nothing more important to him and his office than ensuring everybody in San Francisco feels safe.

"When police bring us cases that have chargeable evidence of crimes that were committed including shoplifting, petty theft and certainly organized retail crime we take action in the vast majority of those cases. We're actively working with law enforcement partners and across the bay area to dismantle the organized retail crime networks that create a marketplace for stolen goods," said Boudin.

Boudin's office recently filed 15 charges against a suspect who was caught on video taken by ABC7 News reporter Lyanne Melendez at a Walgreens in San Francisco. Boudin says last year, the Retail Theft Taskforce recovered $8 million of stolen goods in one operation involving several agencies.

Watch the full interview with Rachel Michelin in the media player above.
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