San Francisco's district attorney has questioned whether a 'prolific' shoplifter was facing mental or physical trauma, as defended the city's law and order policies.
Chesa Boudin, district attorney since 2019, was asked about a viral video from June 19 showing a man heaping armfuls of Walgreens products into a trash bag, then riding his bike through the store with the stolen goods while the security guard and bystanders looked on.
The brazen broad daylight theft happened at a Walgreens on 300 Gough Street, in the Hayes Valley area of San Francisco.
The suspect, Jean Lugo-Romero, 40, was arrested on June 19 and remains in jail.
He had previously robbed the same store on May 29, 30, 31 and June 1, but Walgreens declined to prosecute, Boudin said.Insurance Loans Mortgage Attorney Credit Lawyer
Chesa Boudin, pictured outside his office in January 2020. In an interview with The New Yorker Boudin said he was interested in the story behind the man who carried out a series of thefts in a San Francisco Walgreens
In a Twitter video posted by ABC7 Reporter Lyanne Melendez, a man is seen nonchalantly shoplifting from a Walgreens in San Francisco as a bystander and security guard watch
The man rode his bike to the store, filled a garbage bag with stolen goods and rode away
Ahsha Safaí, a member of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, shared in a tweet his disgust with skyrocketing crime in San Francisco
'When I watch that video, I think about five questions that people are not asking that I think they should,' Boudin told The New Yorker.
'Is he drug addicted, mentally ill, desperate?Insurance Loans Mortgage Attorney Credit Lawyer
'Is he part of a major retail fencing operation?
'What's driving this behavior and is it in any way representative, because it was presented as something symptomatic?'
Boudin, elected on an ultra-progressive ticket, said that perhaps Walgreens had a policy of not confronting shoplifters.
Boudin said that he wanted to know more about Walgreen's policies on detaining and arresting shoplifters
The security guard faced criticism online for failing to act, although some people said he did the right thing by making his presence known and filming him rather than confronting him physically.
'If Walgreens has insurance for certain goods or they expect a certain amount of loss, if they would rather not risk lawsuits or escalation to violence - then maybe that's something we should know about,' said Boudin.
He told the magazine that the police make arrests in just two-and-a-half per cent of reported thefts.
'Maybe that's a good thing - maybe that means they're prioritizing murders,' Boudin said.
'But when this particular individual was arrested, and we got the full police history, it turned out that he had been detained by the police previously after another Walgreens incident, and they didn't arrest him because Walgreens had said they did not want to press charges in that prior case.
'The police had known who he was for months.'
The manager of the Walgreens store that Lugo-Romero raided, Bonnie Wong, told DailyMail.com she couldn't comment on Boudin's remarks. Walgreens is yet to respond to DailyMail.com's request for comment.
Boudin said that official data showed that over-all theft was down from the previous year.
Yet the city has in recent months seen a spree of high-profile thefts.
Earlier this month, video emerged on social media showing shoplifters brazenly making off with stolen goods after ransacking a local Neiman Marcus store in the Union Square section of the city.
At least 10 people are seen in the video with armfuls of designer goods and then fleeing the luxury department store Neiman Marcus - without anyone trying to stop them.
The footage reveals the shoplifters leaving the Union Square store, each carrying bags of