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San Francisco Trader Joe’s shoplifter sprays fire extinguisher in store, damages products

Grocery store workers block off an aisle after a man sprayed a fire extinguisher inside a Trader Joe’s in SoMa late Thursday. | Joe Burn/The Standard

A shoplifter sprayed a fire extinguisher inside a SoMa Trader Joe’s late Thursday afternoon, according to staff.

An aisle containing beer, chips and dog treats was blocked off by shopping carts and tables on Thursday and Friday.

“Please do not enter—fire extinguisher discharged and we need to dispose of the product,” read a sign placed at the end of the aisle Friday.

Staff were seen throwing dozens of garbage bags full of food into the back of a truck parked outside the store on Friday afternoon.

Grocery store workers said a man attempted to shoplift before being caught in the act, and he then sprayed the fire extinguisher inside the store, contaminating products.

READ MORE: Trader Joe’s Names Its Best Products of 2023. Five Longtime Faves Left the List

Workers throw out dozens of garbage bags filled with food contaminated by a fire extinguisher. | Garrett Leahy/The Standard

Police said officer responded to Ninth Street between Bryant and Brannan streets for a report of vandalism Thursday at around 5:50 p.m. Officers met with an employee who said a man entered the store, grabbed a fire extinguisher and sprayed it inside.

The suspect fled the scene before police arrived. No injuries were reported and no arrests have been made, police said.

Trader Joe’s staff declined to provide further details of the incident or the amount of food lost. Trader Joe’s corporate office did not respond to requests for comment by publication time.

The incident at the SoMa Trader Joe’s comes as a new Porsche dealership nearby was vandalized just days before it was set to open.

On May 24, Cole Hardware announced on it would shutter its SoMa store at at 345 Ninth St. just a few blocks away from the new luxury dealership. The company’s CFO blamed a declining customer base and concerns over security, after a 25% off closing-down sale.

In February, Samy’s Camera on the corner of Ninth and Bryant streets also closed its doors. Ace Plumbing and Rooter Inc. now occupies Samy’s former location.