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San Francisco police to boost Union Square Black Friday presence

Union Square’s Christmas tree stands behind an ice skating rink filled with skaters. | Benjamin Fanjoy/The Standard
San Francisco police say officers will provide a visible presence as a deterrent against shoplifting and other organized thefts in the city’s prominent shopping districts. | Source: Benjamin Fanjoy/The Standard

With San Francisco’s shoppers gearing up to score some sweet deals on Black Friday, police say they’ll boost visibility in Union Square and other key shopping districts.

“We are working closely with community stakeholders and community members, as well as federal, state and local law enforcement agencies that are experiencing similar incidents,” a police spokesperson said. “Our officers are working overtime to ensure the safety of holiday shoppers and all residents. We are staffed to respond to all emergencies and calls for service in San Francisco.”

READ MORE: California Gave Out $267M To Fight Retail Theft. Here’s How Much Will Go to San Francisco

security guards stand near the entrance to a luxury clothing store while workmen fix the doorway.
Workers replace a glass door that was smashed in an early morning burglary in October at the Downtown San Francisco Dior store. | Source: George Kelly/The Standard

Police will likely draw on experience gleaned from undercover “blitz operations,” supported by a recently awarded $15.3 million state grant targeting organized retail crime.

Similar stings have occurred at pharmacies, grocery stores, clothing retailers and other businesses around the city. On Sept. 22, officers said they recovered an estimated $100,000 worth of stolen merchandise after arresting three prolific Bay Area thieves.

The threat of violence, including “ram-raiding” in one of several cases, by some theft suspects has charged investigations into crimes at multiple retail outlets, as well as decisions by some retailers to limit hours, take on police as guards or close.

An Express clothing store in Union Square closed in October, days after a worker was hit with a metal pole during a robbery. Other stores left the area recently, including Nordstrom, Uniqlo and Old Navy. Nearly half of Union Square retailers opened before the pandemic shut down by May, with 17 other retailers departed since 2020.

Away from more visible shopping corridors, police also began posting an officer outside the city’s Best Buy in mid-September as part of the department’s 10-B plan, which sees businesses cover overtime costs for officers plus an administrative fee to the city. 

The Best Buy store is just across Harrison Street from San Francisco’s new Total Wine & More, which opened at the end of August with a 7-foot-tall security fence installed around its perimeter.

George Kelly can be reached at