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Oakland Safeway moves to curb shoplifting

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The Safeway on College Avenue has instituted anti-theft technology.


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FEBRUARY 01, 2023

Berkeley students and shoppers are in for a technological surprise at the Safeway on College Avenue: installed anti-theft doors and scanners inside the store.

The self checkout is now barricaded off, except for an exit that is lined by a scanner monitored by an employee. Additionally, shoppers must scan the barcode off their receipt before leaving.

“Like other local businesses, we are working on ways to curtail escalating theft so we can ensure the wellbeing of our employees and foster a welcoming environment for our customers,” said Wendy Gutshall, Safeway director of public affairs for Northern California, in an email. “Their safety remains our top priority.”

When entering the College Ave. store, shoppers must now pass security guards and go through two sets of doors, including smaller automatic gates that only open inwards and are surrounded by gray fences. Shoppers may no longer leave through entry doors and must leave through either the self or cashier checkout lanes.

Additionally, all hard liquor, some wine and baby formula are in locked cabinets. A sign and buttons inform shoppers that they must call for assistance to access these items.

Lila Wijaya, a campus sophomore, said the additional security around alcohol is a good policy. She noted it is an appropriate addition for a store so close to campus.

Some patrons, however, felt the investments were misguided.

“They could have spent the money they spent on these scanners somewhere else,” said Hinemoa Lefao, a shopper. “They seem expensive, and there are two stands open over there. They could have invested it in a different way or at least given people a raise.”

Gutshall said these recent changes at Safeway are in response to increasing amounts of theft, adding that the security installations are intended to deter shoplifters. Wijaya said she hasn’t seen the self-checkout scanner in action yet, but that they are providing a good deterrent for anyone who may be considering shoplifting.

Other patrons tended to agree that the additions were beneficial. Shopper Mayo Torres said the scanners seemed to curb and deter shoplifting. Celia Rivera, another shopper, added that they have seen a lot of shoplifting at the Safeway and these security measures will help reduce this.

“It is a good policy, especially considering stealing is never actually an ethical thing,” Wijaya said. “It is honestly something Safeway should have done from the beginning if they wanted to prevent people from shoplifting, because [previously] it was way too easy for people to just go through without paying.”

Contact Rae Wymer at 


FEBRUARY 01, 2023