Skip to main content

California gave out $267M to fight retail theft. Here’s how much will go to San Francisco

items are locked behind plexiglass in a department store
Deodorant is locked up inside a plastic case inside San Francisco’s Metreon on May 8, 2023. | Garrett Leahy/The Standard | Source: Garrett Leahy/The Standard

San Francisco was awarded millions in state money as part of a grant program to help law enforcement agencies fight retail crime, the city announced Friday.

The program, called the Organized Retail Theft Prevention Grant Program, gave $267 million to a number of cities around the state. San Francisco got $17.3 million of that sum.

The San Francisco Police Department got $15.3 million, and the District Attorney’s Office is being awarded $2 million.

“This is critical support to help us expand on our efforts to tackle retail theft,” said Mayor London Breed in a press release announcing the awarded funds. “Retail theft hurts both small and large businesses, and it’s dangerous and threatening for workers and residents.”

The funds will go towards funding more overtime for operations that will put more officers in the community, although the funds would not be used for hiring more of them, according to SFPD Chief Bill Scott.

“It addresses shortages, not from the academy, but from the workload perspective,” Scott said during a press conference following the announcement Friday.

The money would also pay for police equipment and vehicles meant to fight organized retail theft and catalytic converter theft, including automated license plate readers that will help officers identify the vehicles used by criminals. 

It will also fund crime analysts, whose job will be to ensure crime is being targeted effectively, according to the press release.

“This money will significantly help the SFPD take on organized retail theft,” Scott said. “Our officers will now have more resources to arrest people who victimize our city’s businesses. We will also be expanding our efforts to dismantle the fencing operations that sell these stolen items.”

READ MORE: ‘You Can Get Anything’: How SF’s Black Market Thrives Off Retail Theft

The DA’s office will spend their funds towards designating one prosecutor and one investigator to focus on retail thefts full time. Currently retail theft cases are assigned to prosecutors in various units, depending on the nature and severity of the crime.

District Attorney Brooke Jenkins said during the press conference that having a designated prosecutor for retail crime would give her office a “point person” that could work more closely with police on things like strategies to investigate retail crime as well as act as a liaison between the DA’s office and the business community. 

As part of the program, the DA’s Office will monitor data to determine the most effective ways to prosecute the most serious retail theft offenders operating in the hardest hit areas of the city, the press release said. 

“Governor Newsom’s historic public safety investments will enable us to strengthen our existing efforts to prosecute those who commit these crimes, as well as develop strong cases against the fences and resellers that make these crimes lucrative so that they too will be held accountable and face consequences,” Jenkins said. 

This is a developing story.