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Worker: Closing downtown Old Navy store victim of 'out-of-control' shoplifting

Worker: Closing downtown Old Navy store victim of 'out-of-control' shoplifting
Worker: Closing downtown Old Navy store victim of 'out-of-control' shoplifting 02:39

SAN FRANCISCO -- Repeating an all too familiar story in downtown San Francisco, another major retailer has become the victim of rampant shoplifting.

In an exclusive interview, an Old Navy worker, who does not want to be identified, described the scope of the problem.

ALSO READ: Nordstrom plans to shutter downtown San Francisco stores

"They're (shoplifters) there every day. When I'm on the floor walking around I would say at least 12, 14 during the day," the worker said. "It's really bad because it's downtown San Francisco and it's really out of control." 

The worker said the flagship store, which is set to close on July 1st, was hit 22 times by thieves in the last two days. And in the last year, the problem has worsened. 

"I recognize a lot of them and they're just super comfortable, sometimes they'll take two or three mesh bags at a time, and that sometimes is $2,000 worth of stuff," they said.  

Old Navy's parent company Gap did not mention crime as a contributing factor to its closure. 

Its statement to KPIX reads: 

Old Navy is always evaluating its real estate portfolio to ensure a healthy fleet of stores that can provide the best possible experience for our customers. Since our Market Street store opened in the 1990s, the way we leverage flagship locations has changed.  

 As a result, we have taken the difficult decision to close our Market Street store when the lease expires, and we are already working to identify new locations in downtown San Francisco that will better serve the needs of the business and our customers.   

 Gap Inc. has deep roots in San Francisco and is committed to the city. We recently invested in renovating our Downtown San Francisco hub where our teams come together to develop new consumer experiences and product innovations. As part of that remodel, we opened four new stores at our headquarters where customers can experience the latest fashion and experiences from each of our brands, including new Old Navy, Gap, Banana Republic and Athleta stores. In addition, Banana Republic has announced plans for a new flagship store on Geary Street in Union Square.  

 We want to thank the Old Navy Market Street employees for their dedication as well as our many customers who visited the store over the years. After the location closes to the public on July 1, we invite customers to shop our nearby locations in San Francisco, Daly City, Colma and Emeryville, or at  

Downtown San Francisco retailers have been the victims of lower foot traffic due to the pandemic and a drop in tourism, changing shopping habits, and safety concerns. 

Commercial real estate firm CBRE said the current vacancy rate in San Francisco is about 30% versus 4% pre-pandemic. Executive Director of CBRE's Tech Insights Center Colin Yasukochi said this is largely due to hybrid work and layoffs. There isn't much leasing activity right now, but he thinks that will change.  

"That hopefully should start to happen either toward the end of this year or early next year, as the economy starts to improve, interest rates start to come down, and growth can really turn around," he said. 

Mayor London Breed said Friday that Gap, Old Navy and Banana Republic have made it clear: "This is not about the issues and the conditions, this is about the changes to retail. And that's just where we are at this time. And it's time for us to make some adjustments to that." 

"The city is growing and expanding, but not in the traditional Financial District 9 to 5 ways, or retail shop in the various mall things that the young people used to do," said Breed, who added that it will take time to get to a better place. 

Breed said she was optimistic, citing an influx of many artificial intelligence companies headquartered in San Francisco with $15.6 billion dollars in investment. 

She added that we should be open to different uses in our city that didn't happen before. 

In the meantime, the Old Navy worker said shoplifters regularly curse, throw things at them, or worse. 

"I feel I'm not as safe as I should be," they said. "I've seen one guy carry a hammer before, so you don't know what these people's intentions are when they're trying to steal, and I feel like sometimes my life could be in jeopardy." 

The worker said they're relieved they will likely be transferred to work at a different location.    

"I was sad for a while, because I do love the store, I do love my team... other than that, I'm kind of glad that they're closing, because I don't feel like fearing for my life every single day that I work there," they said. "I just hope that it can get back to normal the way that it used to be when people were out shopping, having fun, with their families." 

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