Video of Man Shoplifting from San Francisco Walgreens While Security Watches Sparks Furious Debate

A new video showing a man shoplifting from a San Francisco Walgreens while a security guard watches has sparked furious debate across social media.

The video, which was posted to Twitter by Lyanne Melendez, a reporter for KGO-TV in San Francisco shows a man placing numerous items into a black trash bag inside the Walgreens. According to the tweet, the incident occurred at a Walgreens on Gough and Fell streets.

As the video continues, the man can be seen getting on his bike and riding through the aisle with the trash bag on his back. As he rides through the aisle, a security guard, who is also recording the incident, can be seen trying to grab the bag away from the man but he is unsuccessful.

The man can then be seen riding his bike toward the entrance of the Walgreens and eventually leaving.

This just happened at the @Walgreens on Gough & Fell Streets in San Francisco. #NoConsequences @chesaboudin pic.twitter.com/uSbnTQQk4J

— Lyanne Melendez (@LyanneMelendez) June 14, 2021

According to KGO-TV, Melendez said "It's hard for me as a journalist to say 'I won't be involved, I can't get involved,' I have to be sort of neutral, but this is also my city. I live in this city and I see this constantly. Not only Walgreens, but cars, and my garage door has been broken into twice."

Shortly after the video was posted, numerous social media users expressed their own opinions on the incident, with many sparking debate.

Twitter user Mark Kitterman wrote in response that "The security guard got it all video and no store patron was injured in the process. Win-Win. The video will be circulated throughout the Bay Area Law enforcement. Dude is screwed. This was handled correctly."

The security guard got it all video and no store patron was injured in the process. Win-Win. The video will be circulated throughout the Bay Area Law enforcement. Dude is screwed.

This was handled correctly.

— Mark Kitterman (@kanesays23) June 15, 2021

Similarly, Twitter user Moderna Kilmartin wrote, "Non-violent crime, he stole stuff that wasn't valuable enough to be under lock and key, and he didn't even use fossil fuels. SO what?"

Non-violent crime, he stole stuff that wasn’t valuable enough to be under lock and key, and he didn’t even use fossil fuels. SO what?

— Moderna Kilmartin (@anylaurie16) June 15, 2021

On the other hand, several other Twitter users condemned the incident and called for further action to be taken.

Twitter user Scott B. Suhy responded by asking "What's worse?: The crime. The guard doing nothing to stop the crime. That society has let this kid down & he has to steal to survive. SF's state of decline."

What’s worse?:

The crime

The guard doing nothing to stop the crime

That society has let this kid down & he has to steal to survive

SF’s state of decline

That peeps are tweeting & retweeting this video only to make thousands of others angry

— Scott B. Suhy (@scottsu) June 15, 2021

San Francisco Supervisor Ahsha Safaí also responded to the video by writing, "This is exactly why I held a hearing on organized retail theft and am pushing for greater accountability on shoplifting in SF."

"What seems random is often thieves filing orders of - over the counter drugs and cosmetics - hitting multiple stores in day and turning items over to organized crime outlets," Safaí wrote in a subsequent tweet.

What seems random is often thieves filing orders of - over the counter drugs and cosmetics - hitting multiple stores in day and turning items over to organized crime outlets

— Ahsha Safai 安世輝 (@Ahsha_Safai) June 15, 2021

As his tweet noted, Safaí held a hearing last month with retailers, police and San Francisco District Attorney Chesa Boudin to discuss the increase in retail crime in the city.

According to the San Francisco Chronicle, over the past five years, Walgreens has closed 17 locations in San Francisco. Among the remaining Walgreens locations in the city, theft incidents are four times the average number reported in similar stores across the country.

"This has been out of control," Safaí told the San Francisco Chronicle in May.

While speaking with Newsweek, Safaí said one of the most shocking things from the hearing was to "hear from Walgreens, CVS, SafeWay, The Gap...to hear them say that San Francisco is one of the epicenters for organized retail crime in the United States."

Safaí also told Newsweek that shortly after the incident occurred on Monday, he received a call from the Walgreens location informing him the individual seen in the video has robbed from that location before.

"We need cameras in these locations," Safaí said. "There has to be more presence of mind to say that these crimes are not just happening in isolation, that they are part of an organized retail crime effort."

"The people from Walgreens showed us the amount of loss that happens in New York, Chicago, Los Angeles and San Francisco, and the amount of money they spend on internal security and we are by far the outlier...There has to be more accountability and some more consequences for people's actions," Safaí added.

A spokesperson for San Francisco District Attorney Boudin wrote to Newsweek that while they have not learned of any arrests from the incident, their "office supports businesses experiencing these crimes and respect their policies to prioritize protecting their staff and customers above merchandise."

"Unfortunately, because arrests happen in less than 3 percent of reported thefts, these cases are rarely presented to us for prosecution—and when they are, we prosecute the vast majority of them. But because arrests are so infrequent, our office has been proactively partnering with stores like Walgreens on prevention programs as well as partnering with other jurisdictions—which last year, led to the recovery of over $11 million in stolen merchandise," the spokesperson wrote to Newsweek.

Walgreens
A sign marks the entrance to a Walgreens store in San Francisco's upscale Union Square shopping district. Robert Alexander/Getty