Shocking grab-and-run robberies targeting San Francisco Walgreens stores that have captured international attention are now happening in other parts of the Bay Area.
The latest incident happened this week in the East Bay city of El Cerrito. In this robbery, the perpetrator walked into the store and cleaned out a display case into a shopping basket.
“On June 16, at approximately 2:53 p.m., El Cerrito Police Department officers responded to the report of an armed robbery that just occurred,” police stated in a community bulletin. “The suspect entered Walgreens and began to immediately load up approximately $500.00 in property from a display into one of the store’s merchandise bins. Employees told him to stop and to pay for the merchandise to no avail.”
The suspect then tried to leave the Walgreens, located near the El Cerrito Del Norte BART Station along San Pablo Ave.
“When he was confronted by security and store staff at the door, he tried to force his way out of the business,” police stated. “He then drew a baton from his waistband and threatened the employees. He was also reported to have a firearm in his waistband. Frightened employees let the suspect go and called the police.”
Surveillance video shows the suspect fleeing with the basket of stolen goods into the back seat of a getaway car being driven by an accomplice.
“The suspect fled the store in a gold Mercedes Benz which has parked nearby,” police stated. “The suspect was described as a black male, approximately 40 years old, wearing a white baseball cap and a blue shirt.”
Walgreens and CVS stores in San Francisco have been repeatedly targeted by serial robbers in recent years. Police on Sunday, June 20 arrested a man who was allegedly seen in one viral video clearing a shelf of hair care products into a garbage bag. Police said the man hit the same store four days in a row.
“What happened in that Walgreens has been going on in the city for quite a while,” San Francisco Police Officers’ Association Vice President Lt. Tracy McCray said of the shocking theft during an interview on FOX. “I'm used to it. I mean, we can have a greatest hits compilation of people just walking in and cleaning out the store shelves and security guards the people who work there standing by helplessly because they can't do anything.”
Walgreens has closed 17 of its stores in San Francisco in the last five years because of unchecked and repeated “grab-and-run” thefts. The pharmacy chain spends 35 times more on security at its San Francisco stores than its locations across the country.
The thefts are part of a larger retail theft epidemic hitting Bay Area stores and businesses with pharmacies, high-end consignment stores, and luxury retails being looted by gangs of organized thieves.
“The El Cerrito Police Department is asking for the public’s assistance in identifying the suspect,” police asked of the latest Walgreens robbery. “If you have any information about this case, please contact Detective Humberto Rivera at (510) 215-4422 or at firstname.lastname@example.org