Locals responded to the imminent closure of a Walgreens store plagued by frequent shoplifting by launching a petition urging the corporation to keep the store open. It is set to close on March 17.

The store, located at 1300 Bush St. at the corner of Larkin Street in the Tenderloin neighborhood, recently posted signs telling customers about its closing and that all prescription information would be transferred to another Walgreens, located three blocks away at 1524 Polk St.

The Bush Street Walgreens “has become a lifeline for many seniors, people with disabilities, and low-income residents who cannot go further out to other stores to get what they need. The other Walgreens that is 3 blocks away is not handicapped accessible and cannot accommodate people with disabilities,” according to the petition.

A sign posted in the Walgreens store at 1300 Bush St. Photo courtesy Sebastian Luke.

“Walgreens Corp. has an annual revenue of around $139.5 billion,” the petition says. “We think they can afford to keep needed stores like this open.”

Walgreens media representatives did not respond to requests for comment Monday.

The store reported at least 18 shoplifting, robbery and burglary incidents to the San Francisco Police Department between September and December of 2020, according to police data. In a handful of incidents, thieves brandished knives or other weapons, or assaulted an employee or guard. In many cases, they stole merchandise valued under $950, which is the threshold at which shoplifting becomes a felony charge. 

San Francisco resident Sebastian Luke, who has made it a personal crusade to save San Francisco’s Walgreens stores from closures, said the Bush Street location has increased its security in response to frequent thefts. It hired a security guard and keeps many items, including toothpaste and allergy medicine, in locked cabinets, he said.

Losing neighborhood drugstores can make it more difficult for neighbors to pick up medications or get necessary vaccinations.

This past winter, as more Americans were encouraged to get flu shots amid the Covid-19 pandemic, Walgreens reported “unprecedented demand” for those vaccinations. And, as the Covid-19 vaccine becomes more available in San Francisco, six Walgreens stores — at 2550 Ocean Ave., 4645 Mission St., 825 Market St., 2120 Polk St., 498 Castro St., and 5300 Third St. — will soon be administering Covid-19 vaccinations, according to a spokesperson at San Francisco’s COVID Command Center. 

“In the middle of a pandemic and crisis, we cannot allow profit driven greedy Corporations to further traumatize and abandon their responsibility to the community. People over Profits! Especially during the worst crisis we’ve faced in a generation. Shame on Walgreens,” San Francisco resident Curtis Bradford wrote when he signed the petition. 

In 2019 and 2020, seven Walgreens stores have closed, including the one at 16th and Mission streets, some as part of the company’s plan to shutter a number of locations across the country. But the Walgreens at Van Ness and Eddy closed because it was losing more than $1,000 a day to shoplifters, according to the Chronicle

Many Walgreens stores across the city are facing rampant shoplifting, prompting the San Francisco District Attorney’s office to begin working with loss-prevention consultants at the ALTO Alliance to prosecute the most serious repeat offenders. They’re working with some of the hardest-hit stores in the city, including the one at 1300 Bush St., to identify and issue arrest warrants for those suspects, Assistant District Attorney Matthew Donahue said. 

Walgreens reportedly takes a hands-off approach to shoplifting. Interfering with a would-be shoplifter can lead to assaults, injuries and insurance liability; instead, employees are encouraged to call the police only after suspects have left the store, according to their posts on Reddit. 

“We’re supposed to wait until they leave the store to notify police, but what good does this do with no identifying information and a shitty camera system?” asked a Walgreens store manager posting under the name Nerdspice. “Why even try? I’m just struggling.”

Identifying and locating shoplifters is tough, largely because the suspects are long gone by the time officers arrive, Donahue said. However, some shoplifters return so often that Walgreens employees learn their names. That information, combined with security footage, helps identify potential suspects, he said. 

Luke said he doesn’t expect the petition over the 1300 Bush St. Walgreens to make a difference. “I don’t believe that the petition will help [change] Walgreens’ mind,” he said. “According to the Walgreens employees I know well, the decision has been made by the corporate office.”

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83 Comments

  1. “… we cannot allow profit driven greedy Corporations to further traumatize and abandon their responsibility to the community.”

    What a typical and entitled knee-jerk-corporate-hating-lefty-prick! What greed are you referring to? Why don’t YOU stop all the theft going on? Or get on the DA’s case (as well as moronic SF residents) that voted for decriminalizing theft of under $950. Better yet, open up a for-the-people pharmacy coop. But no, you just choose to whine. Grow up.

    1. Hey big guy, how about a profitable mega corporation invest in some security guards for their stores instead of packing up and shirking their responsibility as an essential service provider in this city?

      1. There’s no point to security guards in SF, where there will be no legal penalties for the theft and the guard would probably be sued by the criminal or the DA for assaulting the thief.

        1. Security guards are not police. They follow one guy around the store and others are milling around other aisles. I’ve seen it with my own eyes. In a city full of people in second hand store clothes you can’t tell which is the homeless addict about to fill his back pack with a shelf of candy bars or vitamin D, or soda. I’ve witnessed the unbelievable while just going in to pick up a prescription both at my last Walgreens at Van Ness and Market (closed last year) and the new one on Fell St in the Hayes Valley. The city is over run with men and women pushed over the edge by their lifestyle and empty shelves are the result. Now everything where I shop is locked up. It’s like that now. The streets are like that now but if you live somewhere where it’s not like that good for you. But you are clueless then.

        2. It seems to me that the other Walgreens that is 3 blocks away is breaking the law by not being compliant with the ADA Americans with Disabilities Act! I believe this is nation wide. So it could force them to keep the store you need open at least until they make the other store compliant with the LAW!
          BTW there is no doubt that the thief laws need to be fixed!
          Keep fighting back!

          1. That is not how the ADA works.
            Furthermore, just because some petition claims that the other location is not in compliance with the ADA, does not constitute proof that it is so.

          2. That is so far from the truth. I now first hand that Walgreen’s makes every effort possible to comply with all ADA, Osha, and City Codes.
            The Police Dept., because the D.A. has chosen to not enforce the law, and will not prosecute shoplifters is the reason for closing these locations. Store managers work on profit, this comes directly out of their profit/pocket.

      2. Ken, are you out of your fucking mind? How about there won’t be any essential services if we let stores get robbed into bankruptcy? “Mega corporations” are in business to make money and grow shareholder value. Grow up.

      3. Security gaurds??? If the police cannot punish the criminal what makes u think the security gaurd can fix the problem. Making the law that caters to the criminal, and has no consequenses is the problem. Cooperations cannot pay employees , nor keep the shelves supplied when thousands of dollars are leaving the store free of charge. The overhead to operate the walgreens and other stores is tremendous, lights heat water taxes and employees. Laws must punish the criminal thefts, any amount of stealing is wrong and should be punished.

        Nnot

      4. What’s a “mega corporation”?

        Only a liberal would live in a community where criminals are basically given a pass to steal repeatedly and then turn around and blame the victim of the theft for giving up and leaving. Here’s a hint that you might be wrong…this doesn’t happen in my neighborhood where criminals are prosecuted.

      1. ….And if our boycott is effective enough, it’ll run them out of business!…. Wait !!!! ツ

    2. So, is anyone actually thinking of anything other than profitability for the store??? Perhaps their reasoning is staffing/ the safety of the employees. Who is going to keep working a store that has continually been robbed, sometimes with the use of weapons??!!!

  2. Corporate greed? What about the safety and lives of the employees? Plus there are no repercussions for shoplifting.

    1. If Luke thinks having a knife in your face is so nice let him volunteer as a security guard. Screaming about “people over profits” in this case is actually embarrassing

  3. You reap what you sow. Thanks to the failed policies of Gascon and Boudin, we are losing vital businesses.

    1. “you reap what you sow” rather applies to Walgreens and CVS. they promoted, participated and profited from the trade in opioids. and i presume most theft occurs to finance and maintain a drug habit.

      1. I didn’t know they were in the Meth, MJ, Fentanyl business. Prescription opioids are tightly controlled. My recently deceased 85 y/o mother could only ever get just enough to manage a severe arthritic condition. Anti-inflamatories were not an option due to a congenital heart problem.

  4. Whisky cost too much, so I just walk out without paying and suffer NO consequences , of course they have to go , or boycott them to close sooner. Too late for law and order.

  5. This is incredible to me… here you have a populace of “progressive” residents who vote Chesa Boudin into office on a platform that basically calls for decriminalizing theft and vandalism, then complains about the consequences of their votes. This is yet another perfect example of the unintended (yet easily foreseeable) dim-witted policies of our current progressive government. My hope is always that the voters will wake up and realize the consequences of their idealistic — yet unrealistic — policy choices, but it has not happened yet. Please wake up voters!

  6. Shoplifting has been a problem at urban Walgreens for years. I would go in & find the eye care shelf empty. Once the pandemic hit, it felt unsafe waiting in long lines at a pharmacy tucked in a poorly ventilated corner as far as possible from the front door.
    If only Walgreens urban locations had set up curbside pickup when the pandemic hit.
    I am now ordering toothpaste, etc online & may never set foot in a Walgreens again.

    1. shame on walgreens and cvs for raising prices for everyday items such as toothpaste, deodorant, etc. and first aid items such as band aid. the prices vastly outpace the inflation rate. toothpaste now cost often around $8, floss $5-8, etc. these items are exactly the same as 30 years ago, no new research/developement went into it.
      a lot of stuff at drugstore chains are is vastly overpriced.

      1. “toothpaste now cost often around $8, floss $5-8, etc. ”

        Gee, do you think it might be because those items are being shoplifted out the door in bulk every day, and they have to make it up on the few honest people left?

  7. Prosecute these criminals. The crazy extreme liberals in this city are incredulous. We are sick of the stupid political posturing of the DA and mayor. Vote them out!

  8. I left Seattle years ago for largely the same reason. The leftists politicians were very soft on crime and it has gotten much worse since. I used to live in the bay area and SF was a wonderful city (in the 70’s) but apparently is now circling the drain with homeless bums everywhere and no enforcement for the law. Sad.

    It will be a shame to see such cities become Detroit like but that’s clearly where it’s all headed. Wake up voters.

  9. Larkin and Bush is not the Tenderloin.

    San Francisco journalists regularly blame the TL for “bad” things that happen elsewhere. Last week, SF Gate had an article about a visiting nurse whose car was broken into on Pine Street, referred to by the author as Nob Hill. But for some reason, she felt her article also needed to include a specific reference to the Tenderloin:

    “Additionally, 80 larceny thefts were reported in the Tenderloin District this year, a significant drop from the 177 that were reported to police in 2020. Burglaries, however, have increased by 33.3% in the neighborhood, and 62.8% citywide.”

    Although the information provided in the article might be accurate (I haven’t verified it), there is no reason to single out a slice of the TL’s crime statistics. Of course, those numbers seem to show the problem is getting worse faster elsewhere in the city. Neighborhood boosters and real estate agents go through great pains to make sure Bush and Larkin are known to be in Lower Nob Hill (walkscore.com), Downtown (zumper.com), Polk Gulch (niche.com and almost everybody else); and even the hybrid best of both worlds Nob Hill/Polk Gulch (loopnet.com).

    Oh, wait, there are reasons to discredit the TL. Here are just a few of them:

    We can deflect and displace to maintain property values in “good” neighborhoods;

    We can make smug comments (and policy) about a complex residential neighborhood and still pretend we’re good liberals;

    We can repeatedly fail to make commitments to and invest in the 3,500 kids who live in the neighborhood but still use them as pawns when we burst into tears at a Board of Supervisors meeting while grandstanding about SFUSD progress on reopening schools for in-person learning;

    We can blame the victim when we speed along Leavenworth, run a red light and drive over a pedestrian;

    We can shun and hate all sorts of people who are in the way of the iron fist and under the heel of decades’ of hostile statecraft, locally, nationally and internationally.

    1. I am disabled and a senior. I use 1300 Bush since it is powerchair and handicapped accessible. The Polk st store is not. Where will I go since there is no where close. CVS is not accessible either

      1. “Where will I go since there is no where close.”

        Beats me. How much did you do to help eliminate mass shoplifting? Walgreen’s is about to show a bunch of parasites what happens when an actual producer says, “no more”. You, unfortunately, along with many honest but silent people, bear the fallout from those parasitical scum.

    2. Sounds like you have some beef to take up with Randy Shaw. What are you doing in the ML comments section? He and the ilk are taking lead on the Keeping The Tenderloin S***y movement. I’ve hung out with some SRO employees who are proud that neighborhood is the country’s headquarters of human misery.

    3. No shame on Walgreens shame on the whole f****** State of California for being such dumbasses and allowing this s*** to go on. You getting exactly what you f****** ask for. Not prosecuting criminals let them run free what kind of f****** idiots are y’all out there ?

  10. Hey why not hold the group committing these crimes accountable. How come their community doesn’t step in and fix this and effect change?How about being honest and publish what specific group commits most of these robberies against largely Asian owned businesses.
    An Asian owned pharmacy at 3rd and Evan’s was terrorized/robbed right out of business.
    Grocery, pharmacy, produce stores operate on RAZOR thin margins there is NO massive corporate profits to cover lose or pay a security guard who legally cannot touch or intervene on a criminal. They can only observe and report on what is now a non-crime.
    STOP blaming the victim – it’s sick!
    Grow up nah sayers and lefty boo crewer’s. Your point of view and co-dependency enabling actions that destroy our community are childish. Leave governance and running a healthy community to the grown ups.
    This can permanently destroy grocery/pharmacy businesses. Food deserts are caused by unchecked crime not racism. Be careful can happen in a neighborhood just like yours!

    1. Razor thin? This is Walgreens:

      In 2020, the U.S. drugstore chain Walgreens generated net earnings of about 424 million U.S. dollars, and gross profit of over 28 billion U.S. dollars.

      WBA pays nearly a 4% yield. That means they’re doing fine.

        1. NYT articles on class action lawsuits now are simply rewrites of the plaintiffs brief. No great fan of Walgreens but they are not the culprits in the opioid epidemic. Hate to be an OK Boomer but while like most of my generation I lost friends and family to scourge of drugs at least we didn’t look for someone with deep pockets to blame if the desire to get high got out of control. Also whatever Walgreens overall national profits they are not required to keep open money losing stores indefinitely in cities run by fools.

      1. Yes they are but in case you missed it this progressive city is turning into Detroit unless you live high in the hills and even there the homeless are breaking into cars. I’ve seen it.

      2. That’s because they own thousands of stores it’s called volume. For the franchise owner it’s a razor thin margin. It’s all based on volume. Try figuring out how much each store make, so what if their massive. Btw are you avoiding using Amazon ? They make a lot of money too!

      3. Yeah yeah yeah. So that makes it OK to steal $950 of goods every day per thief? And threaten women workers?? That is fine with you??? You complain about a company making a profit, as it should. If YOU don’t like that, comrade, start your own non-profit company. Well??

        1. It wasn’t a comment about the moral or ethical issues around shoplifting. I was merely offering a correction to Tom’s allegations about the financial stability of a large corporation. “Mom and Pop” and “razor-thin” margins are tossed around a lot. I just think they should be used correctly and accurately.

  11. Shame on Walgreens? More like shame on the criminals and SF’s legal system that lets them get away with it. 7-11 in the Castro is going away for the same reason.

  12. Why doesn’t the community organize to stop the shoplifters. They come from the community. Many steal to sell the goods for cash at UN Plaza to buy drugs. It is not just Walgreens job. We are all responsible.

    1. Because people on drugs are not people you want to be personally policing. They are on the edge. They live on the sidewalk next to gutters and their quality of life depends on getting heroin, fentanyl or crack! Walgreens just gives them an opportunity to make a few extra bucks selling vitamins or provides them a free soda or candy. They steal everything including all the reading glasses and no security can stop it. It’s too prevalent and violent encounters are not wanted by stores.

      1. I live in Ohio….the number of addicted and homeless in SF sounds like the root of the problem. There’s no easy fix except to round them all up and either put them in jails….very costly….house them in subsidized housing separate from law abiding citizens….still costly…..or let them run loose searching for drugs and committing crimes/theft….least costly.

  13. the petitioners should focus on the recall chesa boudin effort instead of blaming walgreens. security guards cant help if they are not allowed to stop the perpetrator. our DA refuses to prosecute crimes. it is an open invitation to steal whatever you want for those who dont care about the law. walgreens is being responsible by not puttting employees in harms way

      1. No. No, he doesn’t. He believes that too many people are in jail already.
        In SF, you are allowed to steal up to $950.00 without any consequences. The security guards are prohibited from stopping the theft. They cannot do anything about it. The SF police will not do anything about it.

  14. Why did the Mission nonprofiteers, the ones who claim to be rooted to “the community,” remain silent when the Walgreens closed at 16th and Mission? Could it be that their commitment to community varies with the size of the grant or contract they’re working at the time?

    Joel and his staff provided valuable para-medical services to people who needed extra help negotiating the insurance and health care systems with scant resources.

    United to “Save” The Mission was silent on Walgreens. Apparently proximate ready access to prescription drugs and other health care needs for vulnerable neighbors was not a priority for “the community.”

    That’s what one would expect from advocates who live nowhere near and nothing like those on whose behalf they claim to act politically. I might not live like many of our neighbors. But the whole point of Muni and Walgreens was to be amidst and around our neighbors instead of living in a hermetically sealed and curated cubicle.

    Sadly the 23d and Mission Walgreens is much more fraught than 16th and Mission. During the pandemic, waiting in line amidst cranky stressed people in that crowded back corridor was not tenable. I’ve switched to home delivery for regular scripts until the risk subsides.

    1. Yes. It is 3 blocks away. IF YOU LIVE WHERE THAT WALGREEN’S STORE IS PRESENTLY LOCATED!! Otherwise it may be 6, 8, 10 blo9cks away. THINK!

  15. HYPERBOLE, all this blaming sounds like a Republican chinwag, As some mentioned closest Walgreens 3 blocks away. Opioids was a Rx sold by many pharmacies so that’s just gas lighting. I personally think there are way to many Walgreens in this city, and the real reason is always the bottom line in any business. So all the BLOVIATING about community responsibility is squat..

  16. Must be very difficult to live in California these days. I find it interesting that the some want to shame Walgreens, but they do not mention a need to shame the shoplifters and robbers. Why not have a protest in front of Walgreens demanding that shoplifters and robbers stop destroying the business. Why not point the finger at the cause of Walgreens decision to close? Why not form a citizens brigade of young strong citizens from that community to document and photograph shoplifters and take those documents and photographs to the police? Why not hold community meetings with the police and the elected community leaders to support Walgreens instead of blaming Walgreens? It is easier to bloviate about corporate greed rather than to create an environment conducive to thriving businesses and employed people. I had a very small business. Drove upwards of 200 miles a day to meet my clients. Worked at night to write reports, create meeting plans and marketing materials. Worked most weekends to satisfy all the government paper work necessary even for a small business of just me. My fees may have sounded high to the client, but to pay for all my expenses to meet these clients’ needs reduced my net income to less than minimum wage when you divided all my hours into the net. It is your community…….point the finger at the individuals who are driving the businesses out, not the businesses that provide employment, products and stability to the neighborhood.

  17. Thieves are stealing these items because they can be sold on the streets. Maybe part of the solution to this problem could be shutting down these sidewalk markets that sell stolen goods.

  18. …the closure of the mission & 16th walgreens created an unmitigated disaster at the walgreens pharmacy at mission & 23rd…employees agree…walgreens is not a friend to the average san franciscan, not that they want to be…

  19. It’s nothing new,company have a loss prevention position just for moniter employees ,thieves, they are welcome.

  20. Walgreens is not a “not for profit” ministry. They are a business. A guilt trip should not be placed on them. If the community wants and needs this store then they’d better do a better job of creating a safe environment for the business. Walgreens has every right to close a store that is not profitable.

  21. You do not need a Corp Chain store , just open up a small store using a check cash floor plan. Put the goods behind bullet proof glass , and have customers prepay for everything that they want.
    Or , jail persons that break into homes , cars , or shoplift

  22. You know every time I go into any store in SF, which is daily. I am followed by employees or security guards and I cant stand it. How can they be losing so much and have a “hands off” approach if I hace eyes on the back of my neck the while time I shop. Yes I do shop, last time I stole something anywhere I was 12 and it wad a pack of spiderman cards. I am 40 now, I think 28 years of non-theft should give me a pass when I am in the store. The Walgreens in question I have actually dropped my basket full of items and walked out leaving it on the floor after one cashier followed me from aisle to aisle. This was 4 or 5 years ago now, but still. Walgreens is trying to cry victim here when they charge 200% more for everything in the store then they actually pay. Now I am going to go to safeway, to get followed, as well, and spend my food stamps that came in today. Sorry I don’t feel bad for Walgreens.

    Btw, please don’t reply to this post, I will not be back on this page again.

  23. Yup. Blame the corporations for the bad behavior of thieves.

    The ultra-left knows no balance or personal responsibility. Greedy capitalists have an obligation to give away stuff, after all.

    I am surprised Trump wasn’t blamed by the article or some of the commenters.

  24. Gov Newsom crazy law..and Mayor San Francisco is not stop crime which growing.
    Not supporting Company save they property…that why small business and big company leaving California. I am going to do the same, soon.

  25. Urging the corporation to keep the store open under the current circumstances is a waste of time. You’re blaming the victim. Like it or not, the stores exist to turn a profit. Better to urge the DA and police to get tough with the thugs doing the shoplifting. And, someone should start a ballot initiative to reverse Prop 47 of 2014 that lowered the felony to a misdemeanor for thefts under $950.00.

  26. Shame on SF politicians for letting this happen to residents. Shame on Breed, Boudin and district supervisors for crime against our seniors, open drug dealing in the Tenderloin, feces and needles all over the streets, robberies and break-ins all over our beautiful city.

  27. i wonder which poor downtrodden minority group the shoplifters belong to, that they are being enabled by the lunatic left that runs most of california.

  28. SF law makers have endangered the lives of many retail employees throughout the city. Basically their is
    no punishment for STEALING $950 of products that are at retail to serve the community. This law favors the criminal not the retailers and the safety of their employees. Good for Walgreens and others that have closed their doors. Thank you for thinking of the safety of your employees first. You get what you deserve politicians. Because of your laws you have less services and employment in your community. Keep making senseless laws so more and more businesses and people leave your city.

  29. It’s not Walgreens duty to lose money due to theft. Get pissed off at your thugs and criminal mobs, not Walgreens.

  30. Hey like everyone says about youtube facbook twitter .. Private company they can do or close whatever store they want. Suck it up buttercup

  31. I worked for walgreens for nearly 14 years. 2 of those years were spent working in a store in one of the most dangerous, blighted cities in the country. The fact that so many stores in San Francisco closed, and the one I used to work at remains open is just incredible. Local citizen support for the store, and prosecution of shoplifters is clearly a reason the store I worked at remains open. Shame on San Francisco, not Walgreens.

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