Walgreens Store Fights Shoplifting by Chaining Freezer—Will Others Follow?
Retailers are continuing to roll out new anti-theft tactics.
It feels like just about any store you walk into these days has some products locked behind cases, making what should be a quick shopping trip that much more frustrating. Retailers like Walmart have been slammed for locking up products that cost less than $10, while others like Target have started putting glass cases across entire aisles. Now, one Walgreens location is testing a different tactic, chaining up freezers to prevent shoplifting. Read on to find out more about this new anti-theft measure, and if other stores will follow.
Retail theft has been on the rise.
Companies aren't worried about thieves for no reason. Organized retail crime (ORC)—which is the large-scale theft of merchandise—has become a growing threat for U.S. stores, according to the National Retail Federation (NRF). The organization reported that ORC schemes had increased by 26.5 percent in 2021, resulting in nearly $100 billion in losses for retailers that year.
"Unlike shoplifting events where an individual steals for personal consumption or use, there has been a dramatic increase across the nation in the number of large-scale, targeted thefts using methods of coordinated and planned attacks on retailers," the NRF explained. "The losses drive up costs for retailers and, in turn, prices for consumers. Items stolen run the gamut from low-cost, easily fenced goods like razor blades and laundry detergent to designer clothing and high-end liquor."
One Walgreens store is trying a new tactic to fight shoplifting.
A San Francisco Walgreens recently stepped up its security against thieves. Betty Yu, a reporter for local CBS-affiliate KPIX, tweeted a video on July 17 showing that one of the city's stores, located at 16th and Geary, has started chaining up its entire freezer section. Workers at the location told the news outlet that they implemented this new anti-theft measure within the past two weeks.
"Workers said normally shoplifters clean out all the pizza and ice cream every night," Yu wrote in her tweet. "They're usually hit 20x a day. The whole store is virtually locked up."
Others stores are also chaining up freezers.
Based on social media posts, it seems that freezers are being chained up at other Walgreens stores.
"I was at Walgreens across from StuyTown and some NYU students were horrified when they found out the freezer section was also locked up at night," Alie Forza tweeted on July 18 in response to Yu's original post. "I walked past them and said, welcome to NYC!"
And it's not just Walgreens. Sports podcaster Dan Katz shared that a CVS store in Chicago has also put frozen items behind bars.
"There's an ice cream thief at my local CVS so they lock the ice cream freezer," he tweeted on July 8. "And having to call to the front to get the ice cream freezer unlocked every other day is starting to wear on me mentally. I am so strong though, I'll keep hitting that button."
Walgreens says it will continue to take anti-theft actions.
In a statement to Best Life, Walgreens spokeswoman Kris Lathan said, "Retail crime is one of the top challenges facing our industry today. We are focused on the safety of our patients, customers and team members."
It's not yet clear how widespread chained-up freezers will become, but individual Walgreens locations regularly test out these new approaches to stopping thieves. Over the past year, other Walgreens stores have taken steps like banning shoppers from bringing in bags at night, and putting almost all of the merchandise behind counters.
"We continue to take preventative measures to safely deter theft and aim to deliver the best patient and customer experience," the Walgreens spokeswoman added in the statement. "And we are working closely with law enforcement, elected officials and community leaders to draw greater attention to and improve our response to retail crime."