Authorities beef up security in San Francisco shopping districts during holiday season

BySuzanne Phan KGO logo
Thursday, November 23, 2023
SF authorities beef up security in shopping districts for holidays
Cities across California are waging a big fight against organized retail theft crime as holiday shopping kicks into gear.

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- The holiday season is here and many people plan to hit the stores this week. Cities across California are waging a big fight against organized retail theft crime.

On Wednesday, we heard from the CHP and San Francisco DA Brook Jenkins about the plan to crack down on crime and to keep shoppers safe.

The sights and sounds of Union Square are a big hit with the Johnson family from Southern California.

"It's very kid-friendly. My kids were excited about the Christmas tree. Toys 'R Us being back at Macy's," said Colbie Johnson.

MORE: Walnut Creek police arrest 8 connected to Bay Area Lululemon theft ring

This year, visitors at Union Square can expect to see even more security.

"That was one of the few things I was noticing as I was driving around looking for parking. I saw a security person, at least two on every corner," said Reggie Johnson.

Two years ago, a large group targeted Louis Vuitton and took off with thousands of dollars in stolen merchandise.

On this day before Thanksgiving, one visitor wondered about the safety and crime concerns in San Francisco.

MORE: 3 arrested after $275K in merchandise stolen during smash-and-grab theft SF Dior store, police say

"With everything you see on the news with the smash-and-grabs and the broken windows -- some of these windows are still boarded up -- it's something that crosses my mind," said Arthur Shekhtman.

On Wednesday, San Francisco District Attorney Brooke Jenkins joined the CHP Commissioner to share their plan to combat organized retail theft during the holiday season.

"The SF Police Department and all law enforcement, including the CHP will be out in full force to catch those who engage in retail theft in our stores during this holiday season and I, as the DA of San Francisco, am committed to accountability," said DA Brooke Jenkins.

The CHP Commissioner says $260 million in grants from Gov. Gavin Newsom's administration has been a big help.

MORE: After 15,000 car break-ins so far in 2023, SF leaders brainstorm ways to end epidemic

"This is a game changer for law enforcement ad our efforts to combat retail theft," said CHP Commissioner Sean Duryee.

The CHP commissioner says businesses and shoppers should expect to see more law enforcement patrolling key shopping districts.

To the criminals, the CHP offers this message:

"The deck is stacked against you. Law enforcement is active and organized and taking steps to identify, arrest and hold you accountable," Duryee said.

Jenkins says the $2 million her office received will partly go toward hiring a special investigator and appointing an attorney to focus on catching and prosecuting criminals.

MORE: San Francisco awarded more than $17M to help fight organized retail crime

"The networks that are committing these crimes will be better identified by the prosecutor and the investigator in this office so we can better connect the dots between both those who are going into the stores to commit these crimes as well as who they are providing these goods go," said Jenkins.

The $15 million dollar grant to the San Francisco Police Department will help them staff officers and also invest in technology to catch thieves in the city's business corridors.

Arthur Shekhtman, a former Bay Area resident, appreciates it.

He's here from Atlanta, visiting for the holidays, and checking out Union Square.

"There's a bunch of officers. There's a lot of security. Every boutique, every shop I walk into has security in front of it. It seems very, very safe," Shekhtman said.

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