SAN FRANCISCO (KRON) – A longtime San Francisco company is trying something new to curb what it says has been “rampant theft.”

Fredericksen’s Hardware and Paint in Cow Hollow now offers a one-on-one shopping experience. The idea is to separate real customers from those looking to steal from the store.

During certain hours, Fredericksen’s blocks part of the store’s entrance and makes people wait for an employee to help them instead of allowing people to simply wander around the store. The former store manager says it’s a move worth trying for the good of the company, its employees and its customers.

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“It’s pretty bad,” manager Sam Black told Nexstar’s KRON. “I mean, the dollar amounts are pretty significant, and with the tools, and now we’re getting snatches when entire displays are taken, so it’s getting a little dangerous for employees and customers.”

Black says that for two hours in the morning and two hours in the afternoon, an employee will work with individual clients. A table at the front serves to prevent potential thieves from entering and leaving the store freely.

“We just want to make the thieves feel uncomfortable so they go somewhere else,” Black said.

Black said that in his 24 years of working at Fredericksen’s, the theft is the worst it has ever been. Staff have had to drill holes in pots and pans to prevent thieves from stealing them.

They also had to install locking systems to prevent people from keeping tools and other household equipment. One customer told KRON off-camera that the situation is “just sad.”

“Yes, people are not happy,” Black said. “The regulars can’t believe it like we can’t believe it, but they’ve been very understanding.”

Black says he and his staff had to try something because they haven’t had much success getting help from city leaders or police.

At this point, the one-to-one shopping experiment has been going on for three weeks. Black says they will review the results after a month.

San Francisco Supervisor Catherine Stefani issued the following statement regarding the situation:

“This situation is tragic and embarrassing for our city, and is all the more reason to get serious about solving our police staffing crisis. We need more police on our streets and we need them now. That’s why I will hold a series of hearings in March to pressure our city agencies to fill the hundreds of vacancies in the Police Department as soon as possible, to stop the bleeding, reverse the damage, and ultimately protect our residents and small businesses. .”

Last week, Mayor London Breed released new crime figures for the city, showing decreases in burglaries, thefts and thefts, including auto thefts and retail thefts, for January. This is in addition to improvements recorded in 2023, the mayor’s office said.

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By Sam