During a speech at a San Francisco vaccine clinic on Monday, California Governor Gavin Newsom denounced the high-profile high-end retail robberies that occurred in the Bay Area this weekend, vowing to increase state budgetary support to fight retail theft rings.
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Over the last several years, San Francisco and the Bay area have experienced a high rise in crime. Multiple city and state-level criminal justice reforms, along with San Francisco District Attorney Chesa Boudin’s lax criminal prosecution policies, have encouraged criminals in the city with more brazen robberies, such as a Neiman Marcus being robbed in broad daylight in July. However, the weekend high-end Union Square robberies in San Francisco and and the 80-person Walnut Creek Nordstrom robbery had such a national impact that state lawmakers have finally had to weigh in on the situation in the city.
“We want real accountability. We want people prosecuted and we want people to feel safe this holiday season,” said Governor Newsom in his speech. “I’m not the mayor of California. But I was a mayor. And I know when things like this happen, mayors have to step up. That’s not an indictment. That’s not a cheap shot.”
“I have no sympathy or empathy for those involved in the recent thefts. Gotta be tough on this. They are stealing a sense of place and confidence. I plan to include an exponential level of support in the upcoming budget to help cities address retail theft rings and other quality of life issues.”
DA Boudin, who is currently fighting a recall attempt fueled in part by the massive rise in crime in the city since he took office, also responded to the increased crime during the weekend.
“These crimes are happening around the Bay and across the country. I stand in partnership with our local, regional, state, and federal partners as we work together to do whatever it takes to keep you safe,” tweeted Boudin. “My organized retail theft task force is proactively leading more than half a dozen multi-agency investigations to dismantle fencing operations that make crime profitable.”
These crimes are happening around the Bay and across the country. I stand in partnership with our local, regional, state, and federal partners as we work together to do whatever it takes to keep you safe.
— Chesa Boudin 博徹思 (@chesaboudin) November 21, 2021
While Newsom’s office later said that no solid amount of funding has been put up yet, the funding would be the first major show of support from the state level to help corral the rise of crime in San Francisco since his July signing of a new organized retail theft bill and extension of a California Highway Patrol (CHP) retail theft task force.
Following the weekend robberies, the SFPD has increased patrols in shopping areas, including installing a mobile command center at Union Square until early next year. At the state level, the CHP has increased patrols in highly trafficked shopping places for the holiday season, most notably along Interstate 680 and Highway 4 in the Bay Area.
Security experts noted Monday that despite the additional support, crime would likely remain high unless Boudin and the city rolled back their reluctance to prosecute many retail criminals.
“I tell my clients, you can have the best security in the world, but if you can’t fight them in court for what they did, they’ll keep doing it,” said San Francisco business security advisor Frank Ma to the Globe on Monday. “It’s good that they’re getting more funding to fight this, but they need to stop defunding the SFPD, they need to prosecute as many people as they can, and they need to start to show that they mean business again. This sort of thing is not happening in LA or San Diego or New York or Chicago. It’s erupting here, and law enforcement and prosecutors need all the tools they can get to help fight back.”
More assistance to help fight the San Francisco crime wave is expected to be announced in the coming weeks by other state agencies.
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