Usually at this time of year, San Francisco’s luxury stores are decked with holiday garlands. Instead, they’re boarded up after widespread “flash mob” looting turned Union Square — the city’s most fashionable shopping district — into an area resembling a blighted neighborhood in Detroit.
“It’s a ghost town,” said Michelle Tandler, a San Francisco native and high-tech entrepreneur, whose photos of the stores barricaded in plywood went viral on social media this week. “Every store has a security guard. People are going to lose their jobs. And these things have a ripple effect.”
Two weeks ago, San Francisco was the first of several progressive cities hit by smash-and-grab mobs of thieves, sometimes as many as 80 in a group. Video from the San Francisco looting of Louis Vuitton shows criminals walking casually out of the store, goods in hand. Other cities hit include Los Angeles, Chicago and Minneapolis.
“This is traumatizing for our associates and is unacceptable,” said Best Buy CEO Corie Barry four days before yet another outlet was ransacked on Black Friday in a Minnesota mall. “We are doing everything we can to try to create as safe as possible environment.”