Amid a grueling year for retail workers, many in San Francisco have yet another challenge to deal with: rising theft.
On Monday, Neiman Marcus’s Union Square store was hit with a robbery just before closing, with cell phone video capturing ten people running away from the store with designer handbags in their arms. According to KTVU, a local news station, the stolen merchandise was worth tens of thousands of dollars, and witnesses told the station they saw suspects smash display cases and grab items from shelves as they fled the scene.
“The safety and welfare of our associates and customers is our top priority, and we’re relieved to report that no one was harmed in the incident. We’re cooperating with the San Francisco Police Department in their investigation,” said a Neiman Marcus spokesperson in a statement.
The department store experienced a similar incident in May when 10 suspects made off with more than $150,000 in handbags from its Stanford Shopping Center location in Palo Alto, Calif, according to reports. That same month, a group of five or six suspects escaped with more than $90,000 in designer merchandise from Saks Fifth Avenue in Union Square.
It’s not just luxury stores that have been targeted in the area. Target confirmed last week that the retailer would temporarily reduce the hours at six of its San Francisco stores to curb security problems, closing at 6 p.m. instead of 10 p.m. “For more than a month, we’ve been experiencing a significant and alarming rise in theft and security incidents at our San Francisco stores, similar to reports from other retailers in the area,” a spokesperson said in a statement.
Walgreens, meanwhile, told San Francisco’s Board of Supervisors that its stores in the area experience four times as much theft as its other locations throughout the country, on average, according to ABC7 News.
Poverty and inequality are persistent problems in the Bay Area, such that one recent study by the nonprofit Tipping Point Community found that one in three area residents said they frequently ran out of money before the end of the month, and half had at least one experience of not being able to pay all of their bills. In San Francisco and neighboring San Mateo and Marin Counties, the cost of living is so high that a family of four can earn up to $117,400 per year and still be classified as low-income according to the federal government.