Home>Articles>Union Square Robbery Saturday Renews SF Retailer Fears Of Another Crime Laden Holiday Season

Beautiful view of business center in downtown San Francisco at sunset. (Photo: f11photo/Shutterstock)

Union Square Robbery Saturday Renews SF Retailer Fears Of Another Crime Laden Holiday Season

$180,000 in merchandise stolen from a Union Square Leica store a week after Mayor Breed assured retailers things had changed

By Evan Symon, November 28, 2022 12:56 pm

A weekend robbery of a Leica store in San Francisco’s Union Square totaling $180,000 in stolen merchandise and $20,000 in damages raised new concerns for shoppers this week as promises to create a safer experience following a string of high-profile robberies last year by city lawmakers have begun to go unfulfilled.

While crime rates in San Francisco have been high since the late 2010’s throughout the city, the holiday shopping season in 2021 in Union Square saw an unprecedented string of robberies that made national and international news. High-end stores such as Yves Saint Laurent, Louis Vuitton, Fendi, Burberry, and Dolce & Gabbana were robbed in a short timespan in Union Square, with other flash-mob and smash and grab style robberies also occurring throughout the area in late November of last year. As a result, multiple police investigations were launched, with San Francisco Mayor London Breed vowing a much larger police presence in Union Square and other major shopping areas, and Governor Gavin Newsom giving additional funding to stop the string of robberies.

Mayor London Breed speaking at the the Women’s March rally, Jan. 18, 2020, San Francisco, CA. (Photo: Sheila Fitzgerald/Shutterstock)

Police defunding efforts, a reduced police force, and policies of then San Francisco DA Chesa Boudin were partially blamed for the rise in robberies, with many Union Square stores closing for some periods of time afterwards due to remaining fears of more robberies.  Earlier this year, additional efforts to reduce similar crimes were introduced, including legislation to reverse Prop 47 policies such as lowering felony theft threshold rates and a major reversal of Boudin’s policies following his recall in June. Many involved in those robberies were also arrested. City officials were confident that Union Square robberies were so unlikely this year that Mayor Breed said in a speech earlier this month that shoppers could return to the square safely and that things had changed.

“Videos that go viral try to paint a harsh picture of our beautiful city, but I am here to tell you that things have changed,” said Breed less than two weeks ago. “Union Square is an important place to the economic stability of San Francisco. There will be more people, more eyes and ears paying close attention to make sure we keep you and your belongings safe.”

DA Brooke Jenkins added, “I vow to root out the lawlessness of organized retail theft. We can’t allow our businesses to be ravaged, the rampant theft to go on, and expect them to stay.”

SFPD Chief Bill Scott made a similar comment, noting, “Our job is to keep people safe and make sure we’re present and engaged and prevent those who want to do harm to visitors and residents.”

$180,000 in merchandise stolen at Leica

Just over a week later on Saturday, the Leica store in Union Square was subsequently robbed for $180,000 in Merchandise, despite the increased police presence. The robbery took place in the afternoon, shortly after a watch party for the USA-England World Cup match ended nearby. The four robbers reportedly entered the store with weapons and escaped quickly via a waiting vehicle. While markedly different from the simple smash and grab and flash mob style robberies last year, it remained a major robbery nonetheless, with it occurring nearby last years robberies in the square.

The robbery shook nearby businesses and many holiday shoppers during the weekend, with businesses now concerned about safety and protection.

“We had an all hands on deck meeting this morning,” explained “Richard” an employee at a high-end store in Union Square who spoke to the Globe on condition of anonymity Monday. “We went over again what to do in case of a robbery, how we should close the store down, and really everything they could do. Private security, like rent-a-cops, are now being talked about and everything. It’s kind of scary for us, and the fact that we are going through safety drills and being told what to do during a robbery as much as a convenience store does so is really worrying. We know better now than to expect the SFPD from helping us I guess.”

Frank Ma, a former law enforcement official who now works as a security advisor for businesses in San Francisco and cities on the Peninsula, also told the Globe on Monday “a lot of businesses in and around Union Square have been calling around since Saturday. To them, that isn’t so much as a one-off robbery. Those happen to any store. No, they see this more as a starting gun. And who knows. There are more police there this year, and a lot of stores there have boosted security. Things really have improved since last year. The question is now if it is enough.”

“The Leica robbery may or may not be an isolated robbery. It is too early to say right now. But it does not bode well that it happened right after Mayor Breed had said it was fine to shop for Christmas in Union Square this year. If another robbery happens there by the end of the week, then I’d say it will be a problem again.”

“You know, five, ten years ago, I never dreamed I’d be speculating on whether or not Union Square will have a lot of robberies for another year. It’s depressing to see that’s where we’re at.”

As of Monday, no arrests have been made in connection to the Leica robbery.

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4 thoughts on “Union Square Robbery Saturday Renews SF Retailer Fears Of Another Crime Laden Holiday Season

  1. London Breed: “Videos that go viral try to paint a harsh picture of our beautiful city…”
    San Francisco once was a beautiful city. Not anymore. The videos merely capture what is.
    Breed, Boudin and other progressives have aided and abetted the degradation of SF. And SF residents voted for them.

  2. Breed’s full of it! All libs are full of it! But, if this is what you want, SF, just keep voting for the ass-class donkeys. Actually, it doesn’t matter; elections are rigged in CA, so it’s all a lost cause. RETAILERS: Take note and GTFO NOW!

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