Rampant crime threatens tourism industry in San Francisco

Bay Area

SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. (KRON) – With recent videos of thefts in San Francisco going viral and making national headlines, many business owners and residents are concerned about the safety of the city and its future with tourists coming back to visit.

This is nothing new for the city but a lot of business owners and retailers are at their wit’s end on what to do about the theft in this city.

Already, many store owners have changed their hours, hired their own security, and installed surveillance systems but none of that seems to deter these thieves.

It’s not just the retailers who are concerned this is an issue that affects residents, restaurants, and tourism.

It’s videos that continue to raise awareness of theft and safety issues in San Francisco.

At least 10 shoplifters were seen running out of Neiman Marcus with handbags on Monday.

“Really fundamentally government is responsible for public safety and we want to work with the policymakers in San Francisco, law enforcement, even the district attorney to find solutions because this is unacceptable and the citizens of San Francisco should be appalled, not just for the retailers but the citizens. You have the right to work in a safe environment and the right to shop in a safe environment. That’s unfortunately not happening right now,” Rachel Michelin said.

Rachel Michelin is the president and CEO of the California Retailers Association. 

She says this isn’t a new issue in the city or state, however, organized retail crime seems to be increasing in San Francisco specifically. 

It’s why many small businesses and large retailers, like Target, have recently shortened their hours at all locations in the city.

San Francisco’s theft issues are grabbing national headlines.

In response to this video, the Daily Mail wrote: “Crime is basically legal in San Francisco,” meanwhile the New York Times writes: “The mundane crime of shoplifting has spun out of control in San Francisco”

“I’ve been on calls all day on this issue from all over the country and that is the perception. There’s lawlessness in the city, a city that used to be the standard-bearer for retail. I mean that’s where you would go. San Francisco was famous for its shopping and now people are, just as an example, I was on next door, someone was saying I was thinking about going to San Francisco and all the comments were don’t go,” Michelin said.

San Francisco Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Rodney Fong says one-third of the city’s economy is driven by tourism, a large group of people who are also impacted by the daily car break-ins.

“And if San Francisco wants to fully recover, we need to make sure our streets are safe, that tourists feel comfortable here, for conventioneers feel comfortable coming to San Francisco,” Fong said.

However, Fong says this issue is also chasing away residents.

“This is terribly disturbing. The city can’t tolerate it any longer. We’ve finished this poll recently that 48% of San Franciscans felt they may not be here in three years,” Fong said.

In that same poll done by the Chamber of Commerce where more than 500 registered voters and residents weighed in.

  • 8 out of 10 people believed crime has gotten worse in the city.
  • 70% felt the quality of life has decreased.
  • 76% also believe that increasing the number of police officers in high crime neighborhoods should be a priority.

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