SF hardware store hit by wave of crime taking extreme measures to prevent shoplifting

Luz Pena Image
Friday, February 23, 2024
SF hardware store taking extreme measures to prevent theft
A San Francisco hardware store hit by a wave of crime has resorted to drilling items into displays to prevent theft.

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- A San Francisco hardware store is now completely changing its customer shopping experience in hopes of diminishing shoplifting.

When you first walk into Fredericksen Hardware and Paint in San Francisco you have light bulbs to your right and a table blocking the entrance with a sign that reads "Please wait for assistance."

"Well, usually I tell them can I help you? If they ask me a question like what is going on? I just say like well we have a problem with theft and we are trying to slow down the traffic," said one of Fredericksen Hardware's employees.

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Employees then decide if the customer should go in or not.

This store has been around for over 100 years and for the first time this month they had to ramp up their safety measures after a wave of thefts.

"Shoplifting got too much. The snatch and grabs that is where it just had to stop. When they come in and rip stuff off the wall, it endangers employees and customers and that is why we had to slow it down a little bit with the table here," said Sam Black, Fredericksen Hardware Manager.

The table up front is just one of the measures. Several employees showed us around... their pots and pans have now been drilled into the display wall.

"It's unfortunate but also yeah it's somewhat of a solution to a problem that we are having," said Lester Traje, Fredericksen Hardware shipping and receiving manager.

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Walls full of items are now locked.

"The counts in the computer were not correct. Like it would say we had seven of them but there was only one," said Oleg, a Sales Associate at Fredericksen Hardware.

If you come in with large bags you have to leave them up front.

"It's really sad. This is the new world that we are in," said Dave Moutray, a San Francisco resident.

Shoplifting is not just an issue inside this store. Down the street, the owner of Bakana a retail store in the neighborhood has been a victim of crime twice.

"You can't really do anything. The insurance did not cover that. Who is going to cover it? The police? No. The city? No. It's all me," said Mariana Bakana, owner of Bakana.

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Our ABC7 News data team looked into SFPD incident data and found that in 2023, there were 81 larceny-theft shoplifting incidents in the Marina neighborhood, which is the area where the hardware store is located. That's higher than every year going back to 2019.

Luz Pena: "Have you filed police reports on this?"

Sam Black: "That doesn't really do anything. So yeah there is no point unless it's really dangerous, but I don't want to cry wolf on something for $50 bucks. I want to save that for when someone is getting hurt or something."

Supervisor Catherine Stefani represents this district. In a statement her office said:

"This situation is tragic and embarrassing for our city, and it's all the more reason to get serious about solving our police staffing crisis. We need more police on our streets, and we need them now. That's why I'll hold a series of hearings in March to push our city agencies to fill the hundreds of vacancies at the Police Department as soon as possible--to stop the bleeding, reverse the damage, and finally protect our residents and small businesses."

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But business owners say they can't keep waiting.

"Now we are a neighborhood watch. Our block is a neighborhood watch. What that means is that if we start seeing any suspicious activity they can email us or the neighbors can text us and call the number that is on the sign," said Tracy Stanwick, Owner of Salon Belle de Soir.

Residents in the area say they want city officials to take action.

"Constant complaint about funding, funding but the city has money for a lot of other things but it doesn't have money to secure our storefronts? To secure our streets? That is a real problem," said Moutray.

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