“When we see these things go viral,” Scott said, “the perception of lawlessness, the perception that anything goes — it has to be overcome, too. People fear crime when they see it go viral.”
Scott and Mayor London Breed recently sought to tamp down growing perceptions — fueled in part by viral videos — that San Francisco is a chaotic, lawless city. They said statistics show crime rates similar to pre-pandemic levels.
Major retailers like CVS, Walgreens and Target have complained in recent months that persistent theft by organized crime rings in San Francisco has severely damaged their businesses, and even forced store closures. The retailers so far have provided little independently verifiable information about the thefts being organized, or exactly how many are occurring.
Walgreens recently closed 17 stores in San Francisco — though it’s unclear how many would have shuttered anyway after the pharmacy chain announced 200 store closures nationwide in 2019.
Critics have argued that the lack of information about reported thefts helps fuel fears about crime that translate into more money for police agencies and harsher jail sentences.
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Newsom signed into law a bill extending a program that allows the California Highway Patrol to operate regional task forces to fight organized retail theft with other law enforcement agencies.aside">