San Francisco’s Latest Attempt to Reduce Theft is Under Fire: ‘Crime Requires Punishment, Not Incentive’

By: Julia Mehalko | Published: Mar 11, 2024

For the past few years, San Francisco has seen a rise in certain crimes. This has caused residents and business owners to try to combat things like theft around the city in their own ways.

Now, one store’s new attempt to stop stealing has led to an outcry among critics. These critics believe San Francisco — and particularly the city’s police department — need to do more to deter crime.

A Hardware Store’s New Policy

In San Francisco, Fredericksen Hardware & Paint has struggled to deal with a rising trend of theft in the city. The store has had to deal with various people stealing items from the store for a while now.

A close-up of a wall with many hardware items and tools hanging from it.

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This has led the store’s manager to feel that they need to step in and do something about it. They believe they can’t just allow these people to keep stealing their products. So, a new policy was made.


Customer Escorts

Now, whenever a customer comes into the hardware store, an employee will act as a customer escort. This means that an employee will walk with the customer around the entire store the whole time the customer is shopping.

A person walking in a hardware store holding an item near an aisle full of tools

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According to the store’s manager, this employee escort will be there with the customer every step of the way. Ideally, this will help deter people from stealing the store’s products.

Retail Theft Has Become an Issue in San Francisco

For the last few years, many analysts have claimed that San Francisco has been experiencing a huge surge in retail theft. Sam Black, the manager of the hardware store, agrees with this assessment.

The interior of a cafe in San Francisco, with baskets and many products around.

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“It’s pretty bad,” Black said. “I mean, the dollar amounts are pretty significant, and with the tools and now we’re getting snatch-and-grabs when they take whole displays, so it’s getting kind of dangerous for the employees and the customers.”

Why the Store Has Made This Policy

This hardware store has experienced a noticeable rise in theft for some time now. As the people stealing have not been deterred from their actions yet, the store has decided to act on its own. Their hope is that this employee escort will be that deterrent they need.

An exterior shot of a hardware store building with a minimal design.

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“We just want to make it uncomfortable for the thieves so they go somewhere else,” Black said.

The Store Has Let People Know

Anybody who visits the hardware store knows immediately upon walking in that this store has a rather unique policy. A sign was posted in the store that explains this employee escort service.

A woman walking down a San Francisco sidewalk near a bike and a store.

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“Due to the rampant shoplifting, Fredericksen has introduced a one-on-one shopping experience: wait here and a clerk will be right with you to help you with all your shopping needs,” the sign says.


How Regular Customers Feel

Regular customers at Fredericksen have been shocked by this new change. Many have declared that they aren’t happy about it, according to the manager. However, though many haven’t enjoyed having an employee escort, they have understood why this has happened.

People riding bikes in the street among cars and others walking in the daytime near trees and buildings in San Francisco.

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“Yeah, people aren’t happy,” Black said. “The regulars can’t believe it like we can’t believe it, but they’ve been really understanding.”


Critics Sound Off on San Francisco Crime

Upon this news making headlines, many analysts in San Francisco and around the country have criticized the growing crime in the city. Fox’s “The Five” co-host Greg Gutfeld was one of the more outspoken critics.

An old store in San Francisco in the daytime by a palm tree and parked cars

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According to Gutfeld, the city itself needs to enforce punishment for those who commit crimes. He says that if there is no punishment, then people will be more likely to steal from stores.


Critic Reactions

After first saying the idea of employee escorts only “adds to the embarrassment” of shopping, Gutfeld then went on to say that people need to be deterred by the law when it comes to shoplifting. “Crime requires punishment, not incentives,” he said.

A street view of San Francisco, with the Golden Gate Bridge in the background, as cars drive on the street by trees and buildings.

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“Prison Reform and social justice is pure backward science, right? Somehow they got us to believe that more prisons mean more criminals when it’s more criminals need more imprisonment,” Gutfeld added.


San Francisco Officials Face Growing Critiques

Government officials in San Francisco continue to face growing criticism from their residents and business owners.

A bird's eye view of San Francisco during sunset, with many buildings lit up, the Golden Gate Bridge, and a body of water in the background.

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Though data has shown that theft has decreased citywide in many instances in the past year, many feel that more should be done. They are still experiencing theft and want things to change for the better.


London Breed Faces Backlash

San Francisco Mayor London Breed has perhaps faced the most backlash for ongoing theft and crime in the city. Recently, Breed has made many moves to try to deter theft.

San Francisco Mayor London Breed talking into a microphone outside with cars behind her.

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However, some feel that she hasn’t done enough while she’s been mayor to truly make change. As a result, political analysts feel that she may have a tough battle against more crime and order candidates as she strives to be re-elected.


San Francisco’s Response to Crime

Many San Francisco government and public officials have denounced the ongoing retail theft throughout the city.

A San Francisco street with cars driving on it, tall buildings on either side of the road, and people walking on the sidewalk.

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“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,” San Francisco supervisor Catherine Stefani said. “We need more police on our streets, and we need them now.”