A Downtown San Francisco Target store sees at least 10 thefts a day, according to employees, who said products from cereal to nail polish and aluminum foil are regularly taken.
It comes as the city deals with the impending loss of two nearby Nordstrom stores closing due to "unsafe conditions" and the recent news of Whole Foods shutting down at Market and Eighth streets.
"I'd say 10 thefts a day," said one worker at the Target inside the Metreon, a mall near San Francisco's Union Square. The worker spoke on the condition of anonymity because they did not have permission from a supervisor to talk to the press.
"Every 10 minutes you see it," another worker said who also did not wish to be named. "Look in some corner of the store, and you'll see people shoveling stuff into a bag—food, cosmetics."
Multiple products are locked behind plastic barriers at the Metreon Target store, including shampoo, deodorant, toothbrushes and beef jerky. When The Standard visited Monday afternoon, several security guards in bright yellow vests guarded the exit and wandered the store.
A third worker who also spoke on the condition they not be named said lipstick and nail polish, which are not locked behind plastic, are regularly stolen in handfuls.
"They were stocked this morning, and now they're empty," the worker said, pointing to an empty shelf reserved for lipstick.
Another worker said food and diapers are commonly stolen.
"Retail crime is an urgent issue that is increasingly impacting the team and guests at Target and other retailers," a Target spokesperson said. "It’s an issue that affects all of us, limiting product availability, creating a less convenient shopping experience, and most importantly, putting our team and guests in harm’s way.
The spokesperson said Target executives are working with legislators, law enforcement and retail industry partners to advocate for public policy solutions to combat retail crime.
It was not clear how many of the incidents are reported to law enforcement. The Metreon and the San Francisco Police Department did not respond to requests for comment in time for publication.
"It's sad seeing it, that someone has to steal diapers for their kid," an anonymous worker said.
The staff member said they regularly see people who appear to be homeless taking food, especially cereal, and sometimes eating it in the store. Another worker said they see empty candy bar wrappers, cans of soda and occasionally liquor bottles around the store roughly five times a day.
"I understand; they need to eat," the worker said.
Clothes are also commonly stolen, as well as aluminum foil, which a worker said is taken by people who use it to smoke fentanyl. Over-the-counter emergency contraception pills are another item frequently sought by shoplifters, added one worker.
The New York Post last week reported that another San Francisco Target store, on Folsom Street in the SoMa neighborhood, had its "entire inventory on lockdown," due to a "shoplifting crisis." The article cited video footage taken by a TikTok user.
However, a Standard reporter who later visited the store found that most of the store's inventory was not actually locked away behind protective security panels. However, health, beauty and grooming products, such as razors and deodorant, were locked away behind plastic screens.
Garrett Leahy can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org