"When you walk into this CVS, you'd think the store is closing because there's barely anything on the shelves," Fox 5's local correspondent Sierra Fox reported. "In fact, the only items in stock are the ones that are locked up. I did ask an employee what gets stolen the most, and they just laughed and said 'Everything.'" The news outlet further stated that CVS staff have been alerted that the teen thieves are aware of when new shipments come in and that's when they target the store and a sole security guard is no match for up to 45 teens who routinely strip the store.
Meanwhile, sources informed Fox that "street vendors are allegedly paying people to go in and steal stuff so they can resell it." It was also reported that sources noticed "street vendors selling toothbrushes, men and women body wash, car fresheners, as well as laundry and cleaning supplies, which are some of the same items no longer available at CVS. Meanwhile, the media outlet said there is no direct evidence at this time that the items came from the store.
CVS’ Lead Director of External Communications Amy Thibault says, "The safety of our colleagues, customers, and patients is our top priority and we’re committed to ensuring we have the products they need in our stores. In recent weeks, we've worked closely with the D.C. Metro Police to identify and dismantle several major shoplifting rings and will continue to do so. In addition, we're supporting new initiatives to combat retail theft in partnership with the D.C. Attorney General's Office."
The recent robberies bring concern about safety and security to some shoppers. "It makes me not want to shop there, to be honest," customer Ilana Miller said. "I just go in there and get my prescription and then when I need other things, I go elsewhere because there's nothing there to get."
However, during an interview, some residents did not entirely blame the young thieves for clearing the drugstore shelves. "I'm stuck, I mean, it's bad to do. At the same time, they're probably doing it for a reason," a resident said. "They need those things, but they shouldn't just be going in and clearing the shelves because this isn't sustainable for the store."
"A lot of folks actually can't afford any of the things in there. I'm not saying that stealing has to be the solution to that, right?" another one said. "However, maybe if the city could provide more accessible resources to unhoused or under-income folks that can provide them hair care, bodily care, hygiene care, etc., that could be an option." (Related: Walmart to reopen with a POLICE SUBSTATION to combat SURGING THEFT cases.)
The drug retail chain recently announced the closure of just under a thousand of its branches amid rampant increases in crime and as it is undergoing a new 'retail footprint strategy.' The policy was launched in 2021 which will see 300 stores closed each year, with a total of 900 shuttered by 2024.
As of April 2023, stores had lost an estimated $86.6 billion to retail theft in 2022, with projections indicating that by 2025, retail theft may cost stores over $115 billion, according to Capital One Research. Stores catch shoplifters roughly two percent of the time, with the average shoplifter being arrested once out of every 100 incidents.
According to CVS, apart from the robberies, 'local market dynamics, population shifts, and a community's store density' are some of the aspects it has looked into when deciding which stores to shutter. The pharmaceutical products distributor is also starting to adjust to the needs of modern online shoppers. More customers are getting prescriptions filled online, retrieving personal care items through curbside pickup, and visiting with doctors through telehealth.
Meanwhile, rival pharmacies such as Rite Aid and Walgreens are making similar moves. Rite Aid announced it would close two more stores earlier this month, following the closure of 25 stores earlier this year, amid reports the company is preparing to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. It forecasted it would generate 'approximately $650 million and $680 million' in losses next year.
Walgreens closed a store in Berkeley in California on August 23 this year. It is also planning to shut down at least 150 stores as part of a cost-saving strategy while making upgrades to the remaining locations.
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