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Videos: Immigrant store owner says crime in San Francisco ‘worse than Afghanistan’

Police lights. (Dreamstime/TNS)
June 26, 2023

Smash and grab, the brutal method of theft in which businesses are targeted, windows and doors are destroyed and stores are quickly looted, has one store owner in San Francisco begging for authorities to intervene after he lost over $100,000 in goods. 

Zaid, co-owner of the Cigarettes Cheaper in the Richmond District of San Francisco, who was identified by his first name only, told Fox News that he immigrated from Afghanistan in 1987, opening the shop in 2003 with the hope to build a life for his family.

“The city has gone downhill, especially the last two years since COVID, I’ve never seen it worse, “ Zaid said. “People are afraid to come shopping here because they are either going to get robbed or someone will break into their car. The politicians need to get a grip on this because it’s worse than Afghanistan or Iraq.” 

Bashir Naderi, a partner owner of the store, believes thieves target areas where law enforcement is less active, according to KTVU. 

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“California, especially the Bay Area, is going downhill,” Naderi said. “The police got to do something. The police don’t show up. They didn’t do anything. These guys notice, they come here. They know the protocol.” 

Surveillance videos showed seven individuals, who arrived in a BMW and an Infiniti G37, breaking into the shop at 2:45 a.m. 

After smashing the front windows, they enter the store with bags they quickly fill with merchandise before leaving. In addition to approximately 500 cartons of cigarettes, the thieves also took the safe from the store. 

Several angles of the suspects and the vehicles were posted to Twitter by Henry K. Lee, a crime reporter for KTVU. The San Francisco police department (SFPD) is asking for anyone with information regarding the suspects to contact them. 

The robbery comes at a time more than 17 major retailers have pulled their stores out of San Francisco’s downtown area since 2020, citing low sales and concern for the rising crime rate among causative factors. 

Union Square, San Francisco’s famed shopping district, was plagued by a string of robberies in 2021. While SFPD increased patrols in the area during the holiday season in 2022, it doesn’t appear to be enough to put businesses at ease. Anthropologie, Office Depot, Amazon Inc. and Gap have all announced closures in the area this year. 

According to Fox News, closure is a decision Zaid is also grappling with.

“We might have to shut it down,” Zaid said. “Our safety is more important than making a living in this city.”