San Francisco Secures $17 Million in State Grant Funds to Fight Organized Retail Theft

Funding from the State of California’s Organized Retail Theft Grant Program will support dedicated resources for the San Francisco Police Department and District Attorney’s Office to investigate and prosecute organized retail theft cases
September 14, 2023

San Francisco, CA – Today, Mayor London N. Breed, San Francisco Police Chief Bill Scott and San Francisco District Attorney Brooke Jenkins announced that San Francisco has received $17.3 million in grant funding from the State of California’s Organized Retail Theft Grant Program, administered by the Board of State and Community Corrections, which is providing funds to local law enforcement agencies across the state to combat organized retail theft. The San Francisco Police Department has been awarded $15.3 from the Organized Retail Theft Prevention Grant Program and the District Attorney’s Office is being awarded $2 million from the California Organized Retail Theft Vertical Prosecution Grant Program.   

“This is critical support to help us expand on our efforts to tackle retail theft,” said Mayor London Breed. “Retail theft hurts both small and large businesses, and it’s dangerous and threatening for workers and residents. I want to thank Governor Newsom for investing not just in San Francisco, but in jurisdictions across the entire state. Retail theft does not start and stop at any one city’s borders and it’s critical that our law enforcement agencies have the support to not only protect San Francisco, but to work with other jurisdictions to disrupt these theft rings.”  

“This money will significantly help the SFPD take on organized retail theft,” said Police Chief Bill Scott said. “I want to thank Governor Newsom for making this issue a priority. Our officers will now have more resources to arrest people who victimize our city’s businesses. We will also be expanding our efforts to dismantle the fencing operations that sell these stolen items.”

This grant is critical to the SFPD’s mission, particularly in light of the department’s staffing shortages. It will fund more personnel, including overtime for operations that will put more officers in the community. It will also fund crime analysts, who will ensure we are fighting crime aggressively and strategically.

The money will also pay for essential equipment and vehicles to enhance operations as part of our organized retail theft and catalytic converter theft strategy. Importantly, the grant will also

fund Automated License Plate Readers (ALPR) that will help officers identify the vehicles that these organized criminals use to perpetrate their crimes.  Some of the funding will pay for auditing and accountability measures, and communication with the public, so that we can be transparent in the work that we do.  

The SFPD plans to host a symposium where law enforcement, politicians, business owners, and community stakeholders can work collaboratively to ensure we are making the progress that we need to make in addressing organized retail theft.

 “Like many other cities, San Francisco is working diligently to effectively address rampant retail theft which harms our neighborhoods and local businesses,” said District Attorney Brooke Jenkins.  “Governor Newsom’s historic public safety investments will enable us to strengthen our existing efforts to prosecute those who commit these crimes, as well as develop strong cases against the fences and resellers that make these crimes lucrative so that they too will be held accountable and face consequences. My office will continue our close coordination with the San Francisco Police Department to utilize these additional funds to investigate and prosecute cases that deeply impact our neighborhoods and retailers.”   

The District Attorney’s Office will use this grant to fund a full time dedicated Assistant District Attorney and a full-time dedicated District Attorney Investigator to prosecute retail theft crimes in San Francisco.

The San Francisco District Attorney’s Office currently assigns retail theft cases to prosecutors in various units, depending on the nature and severity of the criminal conduct.  This grant will add to that capacity, allowing the office to have a full-time prosecutor to focus on retail theft issues in the City.  Retail theft offenders will be evaluated early in the prosecution process so that appropriate outcomes can be sought, ranging from diversion programs for first-time offenders, to drug or mental health treatment options where appropriate, to incarceration where needed to protect public safety.  The overall goal of the program will be to reduce recidivism and hold offenders accountable for their actions.   

As part of the program, SFDA will monitor data to determine the most effective ways to prosecute the most serious retail theft offenders operating in the hardest hit areas of the City.  

The grants awarded today will provide funding for dedicated personnel in the San Francisco Police Department and District Attorney’s Office for the next three years.   

The Organized Retail Theft Grant program is a competitive grant program open to local law enforcement agencies in the State of California. Grant funds are slated to be disbursed on October 1, 2023.