Sacramento sheriff calls out Walgreens for stopping employee-requested homeless outreach operation

Sacramento sheriff calls out Walgreens for stopping employee-requested homeless outreach operation

SACRAMENTO — Sacramento County Sheriff Jim Cooper said he is fed up with big box chains after a homeless outreach operation was stopped by a local Walgreens.

The sheriff said his deputies were contacted by employees of the Walgreens to assist with various issues like shoplifting and homeless individuals camping nightly by their store. The store reportedly said many of the shoplifters were homeless individuals.

"We still don't know, and they are the first to cry about the rise in crime and how nothing is being done," said Sgt. Amar Gandhi, a spokesperson for the sheriff's office. "And anytime we do something like this, we get shut down."

Sheriff Cooper alleges employees called on his office for help, but before they could, Walgreens corporate stepped in.

"They got the stuff organized. We got about a dozen deputies off their normal hours to address this very issue," Gandhi said. "They get all the stuff set to go, and then Walgreens corporate shuts it down on a whim."

The sheriff's office said it's small businesses that lose in the broader scheme of things.

"They're going to cry from the rooftops about retail theft, but they're not going to do a thing about it," Gandhi said. "The mom-and-pop shops are the ones that lose in all this."

CBS13 reached out to Walgreens for comment. They said, in a statement:

"We frequently work with law enforcement agencies on sting operations across part of a multifaceted approach to combat organized retail crime and theft..."

Walgreens went on to say that they invite future and additional collaborations, including with the Sacramento County Sheriff's Office, but Sgt. Gandhi said it's part of a pattern with bigger corporations, including Target.

"For whatever reason, they didn't want [the help]. The store employees wanted this organized," he said. "They wanted us in the stores. They want us, again, combatting the things they deal with every day."

"The frustration is feeling like people are asking for help, but the help can't arrive just yet," Gandhi said.

"We can combat this all we want," he said. "We can continue these operations, but until these bad laws change, we can't do anything different at all."

CBS Sacramento talked to businesses big and small around the area, and they say that their problems with the homeless have been fairly limited. That said, each store does have precautions and security to prevent such an issue.

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