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San Francisco hardware store on Fillmore forced to deter shoplifting with customer "escorts"

San Francisco hardware store deters shoplifting with customer "escorts"
San Francisco hardware store deters shoplifting with customer "escorts" 02:45

A San Francisco hardware store plagued by increasing losses due to constant retail theft is trying to discourage crime by having store employees escort customers as they shop.

Sam Black has worked at Fredericksen Hardware for over 20 years. He says he has never witnessed the kind of brazen shoplifting his store has experienced over the last few months.

"It was still locked, but just grabbing it and breaking the peg board and just taking the whole display. Just ripping the whole thing off. So now we had to put pieces of oak on top to kind of slow it down even further," said Black.

Fredericksen Hardware on Fillmore Street is a neighborhood staple. The store has been operating since 1896. But in recent weeks, it looks more like a vault than the casual neighborhood supply store it's always been.

Black says after a string of thefts, the store decided to implement a new policy. Customers now have to wait at the front to be helped, and are then escorted through the store by an employee to find what they want to purchase.

"It's something we've never done before. And I mean even during COVID, we never had to do it like this. A customer comes in and we just kind of assist them all the way through the whole process," said Black.

He said it's been tough. Taking such an extreme policy has not only frustrated some loyal customers, it has also reduced the sale of items customers may have purchased if they were able to browse the store unattended.

But Black said at this point, the store has no other choice.

"It's just been lawlessness. Nothing's stopping them from stealing. And with the felony thing being so high an amount. I've never seen anything like this, not even close," said Black.

Thankfully, the new policy seems to be working. The store hasn't had any big incidents since the change. 

Still, Black hopes one day soon the store can abolish the new security policy and let customers browse on their own.

"I just want it to be boring and normal," said Black.

He said the shop plans on having this new policy for at least the next month, but are prepared to keep it as long as theft is an issue.

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