'People have pulled out knives': Bay Area retail workers concerned thefts becoming more brazen

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- Bay Area retail workers are voicing their concerns after this past weekend's string of brazen robberies.

Nearly 12 stores were hit at the same time on Friday night in Union Square, and now the aftermath is not only physical, but mental for retail store workers.

"It's a heightened security. We want to keep all of our patrons and our staff safe. There are things we have to do now that we really didn't want to," said Marc Capalpo, VP Operations for Gump's.

We went to see first-hand, the environment retail workers are stepping into on a regular Tuesday. Storefronts are boarded up, private security workers guard the entrance of many stores.

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Many luxury brands are locking their doors. Once a worker or security guards sees you, then you're allowed inside.

"We are doing what we can at our storefront to make sure that we know who is coming into our store," said Capalpo.

The VP of operations for Gump's said they were lucky to not get hit, but he is concerned for his staff's safety.

"It's time to take action. It's time to stop the news conferences and start holding people accountable so that these businesses that are trying to survive can flourish," said Capalpo.

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The day after the Union Square organized thefts, multiple stores at Westfield Mall were also hit.

"Right now I'm locking one door and just opening one door," said Shanti Ringtkar, worker at Amiri salon.

Shanti says she is always on high alert.

Several doors down is the shoe store Finish Line, where retail workers Kiana and Regina have witnessed several thefts across the mall.

Luz Pena: "Are you scared to come to work?"

Kiana Garcia: "I do get scared, but you got to make your money somehow."

They've seen the increase in theft in the last several months.

"Victoria Secret is a main target, Shoe Palace, all shoe stores, Nordstrom's, Bloomingdales, honestly anything that they can get. If they see the store a little bit empty or there are not that many associates they just try to take it," said Garcia.

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"People have pulled out knives and threatened us before," said Regina Singh.

They are told to stand back, but their concern is not for the shoes but their lives.

"Shoe Palace in LA, an employee got shot over shoes that a person was stealing. Of course it's scary because you just never know," said Garcia.

Several retail workers in the Union Square area said Friday's incident was traumatizing. At least one of the companies impacted is providing mental health resources for their workers.

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