Rash of thefts at Bird Rock CVS store raises neighborhood concerns

Police car lights

A recent rash of thefts at the CVS Pharmacy in Bird Rock has some residents worried. Since the beginning of summer, thefts have been reported at a rate of at least every other day.

One comment on social media called the thieves “looters” who are “filling backpacks with items off the shelf and walking out of the store like it’s normal.” Another comment expressed concern about the safety of the neighborhood and said, “I no longer patronize CVS.”

The frustration is shared by those who work at the store at 5495 La Jolla Blvd.

“We get people shoplifting in here every other day,” supervisor Victor Lopez told the La Jolla Light, adding that it is “stressful.”

In one brazen theft Sept. 13, “someone came in with a trash bag and put a bunch of things in there,” he said.

Some of the thieves are organized and “try to be sneaky,” Lopez said.

“Someone stole some things and had a car waiting for him outside the store. I also saw he had pepper spray, so I backed off,” Lopez said. “But we filed a police report.”

The San Diego Police Department did not have an immediate comment.

Lopez said company policy is to not chase shoplifters.

“We could get fired if we do,” he said. “But we don’t have a security guard, just the employees.”

CVS corporate communications manager Kara Page said she could not discuss “internal policy” but said company procedure directs employees to call law enforcement if they see illegal activity.

“We are committed to the safety of our customers and employees, and our security policies and procedures are designed to help ensure our stores remain safe environments to work, shop and fill prescriptions,” she said. “This includes our policies and procedures regarding shoplifting, which are designed to help deter theft while avoiding situations that may endanger employees or customers.”

“Someone stole some things and had a car waiting for him outside the store. I also saw he had pepper spray, so I backed off.”

— Victor Lopez, supervisor at Bird Rock CVS store

Lopez said that if he sees someone acting “sketchy,” he will follow the person around the store until the person leaves.

Despite the thefts, it’s “still a pretty chill store and it’s a nice community otherwise,” he said.

Though the cause of these particular crimes is uncertain, some say Proposition 47, a ballot measure approved by 60 percent of California voters in 2014 that reclassified certain thefts from felonies to misdemeanors, has resulted in an increase in such incidents.

“Nothing will happen to [the thieves],” according to one social media comment. “Get used to it. Sadly, it’s the new normal and will only get worse.” ◆