A San Francisco supermarket, which closed down last month after being open for just 13 months, saw its staff subjected to widespread drug use by vagrants and huge amounts of theft – resulting in 568 emergency calls over the period.
It meant there was just over one phone call a day for antisocial behavior at the Whole Foods Market, with phone records detailing an array of chaotic and dangerous incidents.
The closure of the store has specifically been attributed to the significant rise in crime in the area and subsequent safety concerns.
The reports show how workers at the store were routinely threatened with weapons, while vagrants would throw food at staff, engage in fights, and even defecate on the floor.
One incident saw a homeless man with a knife spray an employee with a fire extinguisher.
There were also cases of drug overdoses with one man dying in the bathroom after overdosing on fentanyl and methamphetamine. Thefts were also common with large quantities of alcohol stolen from the store.
‘Male [with] machete is back,’ one call detailed. ‘Another security guard was just assaulted,’ stated another 911 call.
In total it led to the arrest of at least 14 people with some charged with serious offenses including grand theft and battery.
More than 250 baskets were taken by thieves from the store before the supermarket added anther 50 – only to have those be taken as well.
The organic food giant originally opened the new ‘flagship’ location at Trinity Place in the city’s Tenderloin district in March 2022, hoping to resurrect footfall after two years of draconian COVID restrictions brutally affected businesses in the area.
But following non-stop incidents of anti-social behavior the store initially shortened its opening hours in an effort to minimize the amount of theft happening.
Bathroom policies had to be modified after drug paraphernalia, including syringes and pipes were discovered.
But the system appeared to make little change. With drug use and levels of crime demonstrating no indication of abating the company made the decision to shut down the location permanently.
A City Hall source told The San Francisco Standard the company cited deteriorating street conditions around drug use and crime near the store as the driving factors behind the closure.
A spokesperson for Whole Foods has said that the decision on whether to reopen the store will be reevaluated but only if the safety of staff can be guaranteed.
‘We are closing our Trinity location only for the time being. If we feel we can ensure the safety of our team members in the store, we will evaluate a reopening of our Trinity location,’ a Whole Foods spokesperson said in a statement earlier this month.
The San Francisco Police Department has been struggling with staffing shortages since 2017, with staffing levels tumbling down short of the 2,100 officers needed to police the city, at just 1,500.
The Trinity Place Whole Foods store endured issues from the minute it opened its doors in March 2022, with managers in October dwindling down operating hours due to the ‘high theft’ and ‘hostile visitors’.
One month later, the store announced customers would only be able to access the toilets with a valid QR code after syringes and pipes were found littering the bathroom floor.
Meanwhile, San Francisco Supervisor Matt Dorsey claimed a Whole Foods employee had told him there were no longer any baskets available for shoppers because all 250 had been stolen.
Dorsey told the San Francisco Chronicle that people were ‘acting out’ in the store and Whole Foods could no longer guarantee the safety of its employees.
‘It’s obvious to me that, as an employer, Whole Foods has a lot of concerns about the safety of their employees, and ultimately that’s why they made the decision to close,’ Dorsey said.
‘I wish they hadn’t, but I’ve also been in there and seen some things that are off-putting.’
The Democrat later stated that he would introduce a ballot measure next year to fully staff the city’s police department within five years.
His policy calls for a minimum staffing level of 2,182 officers —a number originally recommended in an analysis the city uses to determine how many officers it should employ.
For his plan to be put on the ballots next year, Dorsey would need to get a majority of the 11-member board. If that fails, supporters could launch a signature-gathering campaign.
‘Our neighborhood waited a long time for this supermarket, but we’re also well aware of problems they’ve experienced with drug-related retail theft, adjacent drug markets, and the many safety issues related to them,’ he wrote of the Whole Foods’ closure.
He added: ‘Whole Foods’ closure — together with many other safety-related challenges we’ve seen recently — is Exhibit A as to why San Francisco can no longer afford NOT to solve our police understaffing crisis.
‘San Franciscans — or at least the ones I represent in District 6 — are demanding solutions, and they have a right to expect that from those of us in City Hall. I hope my colleagues will support this effort. We owe our residents nothing less.’
So far in 2023 there have been 10,059 incidents of larceny theft and 778 assault cases in the Tenderloin and neighboring Southern district of San Francisco alone, according to SFPD data as of April 30. Robbery has also risen by 11.5 percent compared to this time last year.
San Francisco has seen an exit of residents as a conequence of the crime rates – the county experienced the second-largest population reduction of any region in California between April 2020 and July 2022 at 7.1 per cent.
At the same time, a report by San Francisco officials in August determined that up to 20,000 people in the city would experience homelessness at some point in 2022.
San Francisco Police Officers Association’s vice president, Lt. Tracy McCray, said the police force is understaffed and the entire neighborhood is now at a tipping point.
‘We are short staffed so just our presence in patrolling is severely lacking right now. To see a certain uptick in crime is to be expected but I think we are now at a precipice where we could go one way or the other,’ McCray said.
Locals told DailyMail.com they blamed the rapid increase of violence on the ‘soft-on-crime’ progressive policies brought in by the likes of former District Attorney Chesa Boudin, who was thrown from office in a recall election last year.
‘It’s too liberal. Too much. And we’re paying for it,’ said one.
‘Repeat offenders are back out on the streets in a heartbeat and there’s nothing we can do about it. We’re scared.’
San Francisco Whole Foods:
-Workers routinely threatened with weapons.
-568 emergency calls to store over the course of 13 months.
-Chaotic scenes of fights, food throwing, and yelling.
Democrat Crime Crisis.
— Rep. Jim Jordan (@Jim_Jordan) May 1, 2023
— WORLD PEACE MOVEMENT??? (@darren_stallcup) April 30, 2023
It's no surprise that the Whole Foods on 8th and Market in San Francisco closed down – with pounds of fentanyl out front, who would want to shop there? Not too far from Twitter HQ @elonmusk #SanFrancisco pic.twitter.com/rSbBa1ViDy
— WORLD PEACE MOVEMENT??? (@darren_stallcup) April 13, 2023
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