Los Angeles Rite Aid employee killed while attempting to stop shoplifter, police say

San Francisco businesses face shoplifting epidemic

Fox News’ Claudia Cowan reports from San Francisco, where business owners are frustrated by brazen instances of shoplifting.

An employee at a Los Angeles Rite Aid was killed Wednesday while attempting to stop a shoplifter from leaving the store, police said, as a series of brazen retail thefts have gone viral in recent months across the country. 

The employee, identified by the Los Angeles Police Department as a man in his 20s, confronted the gunman and another suspect around 8:45 p.m. at a Rite Aid location in the Glassell Park neighborhood. 

The suspects were trying to exit the store with stolen items at the time and one of them opened fire, the LAPD told Fox News. 

A Rite Aid employee in Los Angeles was shot and killed Wednesday while trying to stop a shoplifter from exiting the store, police said. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)

The employee died at the scene and the suspects fled on foot, police said. No arrests have been made. The LAPD did not have a description of the suspects Friday. A police spokesman did not know if the store had a security guard present Wednesday night. 

Calls to the store location went unanswered and Fox News has reached out to Rite Aid’s corporate office but has not heard back. 

The deadly attack comes amid a series of brazen retail thefts across the nation that have left retailers, particularly pharmacies and drug stores, on edge. 

In December the National Retail Federation (NRF) said Los Angeles was the top spot for organized retail crime, followed by Chicago and Miami. San Francisco placed fifth. 

CVS and Walgreens employees in San Francisco are trained to be alert for retail theft but are warned not to confront suspected shoplifters. Security guards in retail chains have been attacked and some stores have opted to hire off-duty police officers. 

Retailers have cited several reasons for an increase in organized retail thefts, including lax law enforcement guidelines and changes to penalties for shoplifting. 

“Retailers are investing millions to fight these crimes, but they need more help from law enforcement and, most of all, they need tougher laws that recognize the difference between petty shoplifting and professional crime for profit,” Mark Mathews, NRF Vice President for Research Development and Industry Analysis, said last year.

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