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A store owner caught well-dressed women shoplifting—then posted the videos to TikTok 

Two separate security camera screenshots show individuals in a store with "Shoplifting alert!" text overlays.
Shoplifters are caught on security cameras at Post.script., a gift shop in Lower Pacific Heights. | Source: Courtesy Post.script.

Videos of masked men brazenly ransacking San Francisco store shelves and displays have flooded social media feeds in recent years. But recently, a viral TikTok exposed a different breed of culprit: well-dressed white women carefully pocketing goods.

The video, viewed over 80,000 times, shows the thieves casually swiping merchandise from Post.script., a gift shop in Lower Pacific Heights. For Chandler Tang, the shop’s owner, it spotlighted how crafty shoplifters can be, challenging stereotypes of who is behind the retail theft crisis plaguing the city and region.

After the second theft in one week late last month, Tang was at a loss for what to do. The gift shop, which opened in 2019, has dealt with shoplifters in the past, but experiencing two thefts back-to-back was unsettling.

“I filed the police report but knew the response might be limited since there is so much going on in the city,” Tang told The Standard. “So we took it in our own hands and put it on TikTok.”

Admittingly, Tang said, she was nervous about how the video would be received and if it would be seen because the shop didn’t have much of a TikTok presence.

“However, it was super positive,” she added. “It really snowballed.”

Tang said the shoplifters’ appearance made it difficult for her and her employees to spot the thefts when they were happening. She’s subsequently added several cameras around the store and signs that say, “Hi, you’re on camera.”

“One of them had a fairly big coat,” she said. “We’re trying to change things and be on the floor more. It’s tough because a lot of our customers like their space, and our store is fairly small.”

San Francisco police confirmed both incidents were reported but did not say whether the women have been identified or arrested.

Since Tang posted the video and a subsequent follow-up, a person sent her a message saying that one of the women looked familiar.

Two people work behind a counter in a bright, art-filled retail shop with various small items on display.
Chandler Tang, right, works alongside Elizabeth Ekern at the Post.script. store near California and Fillmore streets. | Source: Joel Umanzor/The Standard

“They told me that they thought it was a mutual friend from a prior roommate, but we didn’t hear back, so I kinda dropped it,” she said, adding that she never gave that information to the police. “That was the closest we got.”

Tang said one woman took a small green kitchen timer while the other took a tea towel with the Golden Gate Bridge on it.

“Both items were under $50, but they are made by vendors, so it doesn’t just affect us but them as well,” Tang said. “Financially, as a small business, it hits us more. Honestly, it affects the morale.”

Tang, who grew up in San Francisco, noted that many of the comments in response to her video disparaged the city, saying she should just leave—but she has no plans to do so.

An art shop interior with prints, greeting cards on shelves, a white pendant light, and an attendant behind the counter.
Cameras were recently installed at the Post.script store after owner Chandler Tang was at a loss for how to deal with shoplifting at her store. | Source: Joel Umanzor/The Standard

“I’m not going to leave. I’ll be here,” she said. “I don’t blame shoplifting on the city, but I also don’t know what it is. Possibly the economy.”

Tang doesn’t think she will continue to post videos of shoplifters on TikTok. Instead, she hopes to use the platform to educate small business owners on how they can better protect their merchandise.

“It caught us off guard how viral those videos went,” she said. “I think if it happens, in my mind, we would only continue theft prevention videos. I don’t know if we’d continue to put people on blast online.”