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San Fran Whole Foods Flagship Made 568 Emergency Calls Over 13 Months Before Closing

Neil Campbell
Neil lives in Canada and writes about society and politics.
Published: May 2, 2023
A flagship Whole Foods in San Francisco made 568 calls to 911 over just 13 months before closing
A file photo of the flagship Whole Foods Market in San Francisco, closed suddenly in mid-April after being plagued by crime. An article by The New York Times counted the store made 568 emergency calls in only 13 months. (Image: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

The flagship store for the iconic Whole Foods brand in San Francisco made more than one emergency call every single day for 13 months before it was suddenly closed by company executives in mid-April.

568 emergency calls is the official figure cited in April 30 reporting by The New York Times. Not only are the numerals exceptional, but so are some of the calls to 911 the article cited, such as a man roaming the store with a machete for (at least) the second time.

In others, a man attacked multiple security guards with a four inch knife before spraying employees with a fire extinguisher.


One man died of a fentanyl and methamphetamine overdose in the bathroom.

On April 12, CNN reported that the 65,000 square foot store was closed suddenly. A spokesperson for Whole Foods told CNN the closure was to “ensure the safety” of employees.

A spokesperson told The San Francisco Standard on April 10, “If we feel we can ensure the safety of our team members in the store, we will evaluate a reopening of our Trinity location.”

The closure was acknowledged by San Francisco Board of Supervisors member Matt Dorsey on Twitter on April 10 who said he was “incredibly disappointed but sadly unsurprised” by the development.

Dorsey added, “Our neighborhood waited a long time for this supermarket, but we’re also well aware of problems they’ve experienced with drug-related retail theft, adjacent drug markets, and the many safety issues related to them.”

A solution the Board member proposed was to file an amendment to the City’s Charter to fully fund and staff the police department “within 5 years.”

The writing was already on the wall. In November, the store slashed its hours from 8:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. to 9:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m., the Standard reported.

A store manager who asked to remain anonymous explained the hours change was “more or less because of the area and security issues,” adding, “There’s just high theft and people being hostile.”

The store had no less than 3 security guards present, the article stated, quoting the manager further as noting “we’re spending more on security than any other store I would imagine.”

In a March of 2022 press release by Whole Foods announcing the Trinity location’s opening, the company said the flagship was supposed to serve as an homage “to classic San Francisco with inspiration from the former Crystal Palace Market, the modern, industrial feel of the Tenderloin district and the iconic colors of the Golden Gate Bridge.”

‘Defund the Police’

The policing situation in San Francisco has been curious in that for SFPD officers, between 2017 and 2022 the number of hours they work has gone down, but the number of overtime hours has gone up, leading to a net increase of almost $90 million in payroll, the Standard reported in March.

Citing Supervisor Dorsey, the article stated SFPD deployed 335 less full time officers in 2022 than it did in 2017.

Putting the number into perspective, in 2020, SF Mayor London Breed announced she would be slashing $120 million from the Department’s budget “to fund initiatives for Black Americans in the Golden City,” Fox News reported in March of 2022.

Fox relied on data compiled by SFGate to state that in 2020, “Homicides increased by 20% that year compared to 2019, and by 17% in 2021 compared to 2020. While crimes such as rape and robbery decreased in 2020, burglaries increased by 47% in 2020 when compared to the three previous years.”

In April of 2021, data published by the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner for San Francisco revealed that almost three times as many San Francisco residents died from drug overdoses than from Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19).

87 percent of the overdose deaths were male and 50 percent were white, Vision Times reported.

By December of 2021, Breed had turned a full 180 on the policy, “Announcing that she was making an emergency request to the city Board of Supervisors for more money for the police to support a crackdown on crime, including open-air drug dealing, car break-ins and retail theft,” New York Post reported at the time.

Breed was quoted as stating on the reversal, “We also need there to be accountability when someone does break the law…Our compassion cannot be mistaken for weakness or indifference…I was raised by my grandmother to believe in ‘tough love,’ in keeping your house in order, and we need that, now more than ever.”

In January of 2022, Vision Times reported that the defund the police movement in San Francisco had resulted in an increase in crimes against the city’s Asian community.

In the article on Whole Foods emergency calls, NYT calls San Francisco a “famously liberal city” where “progressive voices decry law-and-order strategies as kneejerk responses that trample on the vulnerable,” noting that “Republicans make up just 7 percent of the electorate.”

Multiple venues

Another downtown San Fran Whole Foods location has also been documented as a crime hotbed.

On April 21, local news outlet ABC7 reported that video of a carjacking at the California Street outlet had gone viral in Indonesia, picking up more than 5 million views on Twitter and TikTok, after a group of young tourists recorded their experience visiting the store.

“When they returned to their rental car to retrieve a forgotten cellphone, they were greeted by two masked and hooded individuals, breaking into their vehicle.”

When one of the tourists yelled at the burglars, they got a gun pointed at them.

The incident was significant enough that the Indonesian Consulate in San Francisco published a warning to tourists and residents on its Instagram page.

A spokesperson for a company described as one “which identifies and attracts foreign investment to come to the Bay Area” told ABC7 these kinds of instances have significant impacts on a city’s economy.

“What I see is the investment always follows the children, because children come and they study. They make an investment the family follows and everything else,” she stated.

The spokesperson added, “If they don’t feel safe sending their kids to San Francisco, it’s a loss of revenue for the universities there and the other income that comes along with visits and tourism.”