The Crusader Newspaper Group

Shoplifting a big problem at Local Market in South Shore

Local Market

Nearly three years after it opened in a food desert, Local Market in South Shore has implemented a bag check policy as shoplifting runs rampant at the supermarket, located in the Jeffrey Plaza at 71st and Jeffrey Boulevard.

The problem comes as inflation continues to fuel incidents at supermarkets and retail stores across the country. But the brazen thefts are apparently hitting Local Market especially hard.

The store recently implemented a policy where shoppers with bags must leave them with security at the entrance before they enter the facility to shop.

A sign posted at the front entrance explains the policy and tells shoppers, “Due to the high volume in theft, Local Market reserves the right to inspect bags, luggage and any personal belongings. Please check your bags at the entrance of the store.”

Early this month, A Crusader journalist observed a woman being arrested after she was detained for trying to steal a bag stuffed with packages of meat. Security detained her at the front of the store in a section near the store’s electronic exit door, which the store shut down since the pandemic began in 2020.

Multiple sources tell the Crusader that the shoplifting problem involved not only customers, but also employees, some of whom have been terminated. Sources also said the rampant thefts were so bad, store owners nearly decided to close Local Market for good.

The Crusader left a message with Local Market owner Eva Jakubowski, who did not respond by Wednesday’s, October 19, deadline for the print edition.

Data from the Chicago Police Department show that since June, there have been 26 incidents of theft in the area of 71st Street and Jeffrey Boulevard. Sixteen of those incidents occurred at a grocery or convenience store; the report does not specifically identify Local Market as the site of any thefts.

Supermarkets across the country are experiencing an increase in shoplifting as inflation continues to drive up prices of food and household items.

The Wall Street Journal reported last month that some retailers are leaving their shelves empty and putting some products under lock and key. At a Best Buy store in Houston, where hundreds of items like Bose speakers and Fitbit activity trackers used to sit on the shelves, shoppers will instead find small blue signs that read, “This product kept in secured location.”

In July, the New York Post reported that at one New York City supermarket, thieves with reusable shopping bags, backpacks and even empty suitcases stole stacks of London broil steaks, armloads of air freshener and dozens of ice cream pints at one time. A co-owner of a supermarket chain said they had to hire uniformed police officers with guns to deter shoplifters “at a huge cost.”

Joe Parisi, president of New York’s 30 Gristedes and D’Agostino stores, has seen a 30-percent spike in shoplifting year to date, compared with the same period last year.

Located inside the Jeffrey Plaza shopping center at 2102 E. 71st St., Local Market opened in December, 2019 following a six-year search to replace the shuttered Dominick’s store that closed in 2013.

Owners Eva and Cezary Jakubowski opened Local Market as part of their Shop & Save grocery chain, a high-end group of supermarkets in the Chicago area. In January, CBS2 Chicago reported that Local Market has 120 employees.

Local Market is located in a dense area of residents, but there are few supermarkets in the vicinity. Local Market’s 64,000-square-foot store offers premium meats and fresh produce, hot foods, a salad bar and a liquor section.

To open the supermarket, Alderman Leslie Hairston (5th Ward) worked directly with Local Market owners and the city of Chicago, using taxpayer dollars to provide $10 million in Tax Increment Financing (TIF) funds and $12 million in tax credits in order to bring the store to South Shore.

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