Video captured by a witness shows at least three masked thieves grabbing items off a shelf at a San Francisco-area Walgreens before running out of the store.
The 41-second clip has gone viral online. It has been viewed more than 1.6 million times on various social media platforms. The video begins with a woman in a pink jacket grabbing items off a shelf and putting them in a bag. Another woman near her is also grabbing items off the shelf. The two women then go to other parts of the store to grab more items.
About 10 seconds in, the camera pans to show a baby in a stroller. The thieves continue to brazenly grab items off shelves as shoppers watch nearby. The two women run out of the store with large bags stuffed full of stolen goods. A man in a yellow hoodie runs out of the store behind them.
The San Mateo County Sheriff's Office said the theft happened in early April at a Walgreens in Millbrae, California, just outside San Francisco.
"Walgreens did not contact the Sheriff’s Office to report the incident, however, a customer did call to report being hit in the arm by one of the suspects," Javier Acosta with the San Mateo County Sheriff's Office said in a statement.
He went on to say that deputies responded to the report, but were unable to locate the suspects. He said the victim, who was not seriously injured, declined to press charges.
San Francisco has been dealing with a surging crime and drug crisis.
The San Francisco Chronicle reported in January that shootings jumped 33% from 2020 to last year. According to the SFPD, property crime in general is up 10.4% in San Francisco from last year.
Retail crime has been on the rise across the United States in recent years.
According to the National Retail Federation (NRF), organized retail thefts cost retailers an average of $720,000 for every $1 billion in sales as of 2020. That is up from about $450,000 five years earlier. In addition, 69% of retailers surveyed by the NRF in 2021 reported an increase in organized retail thefts over the past year.
"Reasons cited for the increase have included exploitation of new opportunities for theft during the COVID-19 pandemic, less prosecution of crimes wrongly perceived as ‘victimless,’ increased felony thresholds that let thieves steal more while facing only a misdemeanor charge if caught, and the growth of online marketplaces," NRF noted on its website.
San Francisco District Attorney Chesa Boudin is currently facing a recall election culminating in a vote on June 7. The Recall Chesa Boudin Committee claims that the DA has failed to enforce criminal laws and hold criminals accountable.
"Under Boudin, elected November, 2019, our city's criminal justice system has instead been upended," reads a statement on the group's website. "Criminals are emboldened due to lack of accountability; those perpetrators arrested are simply let go, commit more crimes, and unfortunately, many are deadly."
Fox News' Matt Leach contributed to this report.