Coronavirus: Video Shows Couple Looting San Francisco Walgreens as Lockdown Continues

A viral video shows two people openly stealing from a Walgreens store in San Francisco, California [...]

A viral video shows two people openly stealing from a Walgreens store in San Francisco, California last week. The clip was taken by a bystander as the couple hurriedly filled bags with merchandise then walked out of the store before anyone could stop them. The person filming connected the crime with the coronavirus pandemic, writing: "THE LOOTING HAS BEGUN."

The video of the flagrant theft made the rounds on Twitter this weekend after it was posted on Thursday, March 19. It showed two people wearing dark, nondescript clothes, including black sweatshirts and jackets and black sunglasses. Both stuffed shopping bags with merchandise off the Walgreens shelves and then walked briskly to the door. While employees stood by in awe, they did not intervene.

The person who posted the video tagged the San Francisco Police Department, the Walgreens corporate account and a San Francisco District Attorney. They also tagged a company that manages the city's transportation systems.

"SF GOV - PROTECT OUR LAW ABIDING CITIZENS AND BUSINESSES. THE LOOTING HAS BEGUN," they wrote. "Walgreens on Drumm. Suspects jumped on bus and didn't pay right after on Market and Drumm."

Many responded with incredulity, both at the thieves and at the employees who stood by and let them leave. However, most states and cities have laws that prevent retail employees from intervening in shoplifting. The suspect must be seen leaving the store with the merchandise, and even then employees cannot use any force while trying to apprehend the offender, according to an article by The Balance.

Beyond that, many responders noted that employees should not be expected to stop shoplifters, as it would put their physical safety at risk. That is more true than ever during the coronavirus pandemic, as just coming within six feet of a stranger could have ripple effects on a person's whole life.

So far, the San Francisco Police Department has not responded directly to the viral video, though they have pointed out new practices to prevent crime throughout the city. On Wednesday, one of the department's Twitter accounts posted photos showing an increased police presence at some of the stores that were still open amid California's state-wide stay-at-home order.

"During times of crisis some folks take advantage. Northern Station is working with the community to try and minimize this by having officers remain visible and vigilant at local pharmacies," they wrote.

Visit the CDC's website for the latest on the COVID-19 pandemic and tips on staying safe and healthy.