California’s looting problem seems to have spread from the Bay Area to Los Angeles, with at least 20 people raiding a Nordstrom store in a ‘smash and grab’ incident on Monday night, as others targeted a CVS.
Police say they first received reports about a break-in at the Nordstrom store at The Grove retail complex in the City of Angels at around 10.40pm.
They told CBS Los Angeles that the suspects apparently used a sledgehammer to smash the storefront windows and ransack its shelves before they fled in at least four vehicles.
The police were able to pursue one of the fleeing vehicles onto the 110 Freeway, which exited onto Hoover Street in South Los Angeles at around 11.06pm before the occupants abandoned it and tried to run.
Police then created a perimeter around the abandoned car, and began a foot pursuit of the suspects in the area, ABC 7 reports. Footage obtained by the ABC affiliate showed officers pulling clothes with the tags still on them and cash register boxes from the car.
The value of the thieves’ goods remains unclear as of Tuesday morning, as a barricade was set up around The Grove, where glass could still be seen on the ground.
Los Angeles police say at least 20 people used sledgehammers to break the glass at a Nordstrom on Monday night and ransack its shelves before fleeing
Police were able to pursue one of the getaway cars, which had fled onto the 110 Freeway
They were able to retrieve clothes with the tags still on them and cash register boxes from the car
Monday’s brazen thefts in Los Angeles come after three consecutive days of organized shoplifting in the Bay Area
And just about an hour before the Nordstrom shoplifting, CBS Los Angeles reports, a CVS in the city was hit by six burglars who stole about $8,500 in cash. Detectives are now working to determine whether any of the suspects in that incident were also involved in the Nordstrom burglary.
And on Saturday, a Louis Vuitton Store and Saks Fifth Avenue on Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills were also struck by a gang of smash and grab burglars.
Police say they also appeared to use a sledgehammer to break the store windows, but the store has reinforced glass panes, and the would-be thieves were not able to get in. They now remain at large, with Beverly Hills city officials vowing to hire two private security companies to boost patrols at the stores.
‘This used to be the safest city in the west, but it’s not anymore,’ one shopper Salvano Fino, told CBS Los Angeles. ‘Anybody can come and just take, and it’s just getting very easy for them.’
The incidents come after three straight days of widespread looting in the San Francisco Bay Area, with California Gov. Gavin Newsom vowing on Monday to get tough with organized gangs of thieves, despite a 2014 law that barred prosecutors from charging people suspected of shoplifting with felonies.
After Proposition 47 was approved by voters, anyone caught shoplifting items whose value does not exceed $950 would be charged with misdemeanors.
Critics said that the measure has encouraged the rampant organized retail theft, with gangs of thieves filmed smashing glass cases at a jewelry store and snatching garments from upmarket yoga clothing brand Lululemon on Sunday, one day after others were filmed swarming into a drug store and stealing prescriptions.
Dramatic footage released on Monday showed a group of about 40 to 50 robbers wielding hammers to smash display cases at a Sam’s Jewelers store at the Southland Mall in Hayward at around 5:30pm PST on Sunday evening. Shop workers could be seen screaming with fear as the disturbing scene unfolded.
Also on Sunday, another gang of looters snatched garments from upmarket yoga clothing brand Lululemon’s San Jose store, KPIX reported.
And on Saturday, video posted to Twitter a swarm of robbers was caught on security camera stealing prescriptions from Wellspring Pharmacy in Oakland at around 7.30pm.
Pharmacy employees sped up the footage to show dozens of people running through the store to grab boxes of drugs off the shelves before quickly moving out. It is unclear what drugs were stolen, but staff say customers’ whose meds were stolen will be able to collect replacement meds that have been ordered in.
Store employees told KGO-TV reporter Dion Lim they were ‘overwhelmed and devastated’ by the brazen theft, as it is a small drug store and does not have the same resources as chains like CVS or Walgreens.
Just about an hour later, in San Jose, a group of suspects entered a Lululemon store in the outdoor mall at Santana Row and took an unknown amount of merchandise before they fled the scene. No other information about the incident has been reported.
HAYWARD: The group of about 40 to 50 teenage shoplifters made off with an unknown amount of jewelry and other items
Hayward police said they responded to the Southland Mall at around 5.30pm on Sunday, after receiving multiple calls from shoppers and employees about the shoplifting
HAYWARD: It is not known how much jewelry and other merchandise the thieves got away with
OAKLAND: Video posted to Twitter shows a swarm of robbers entering Wellspring Pharmacy in Oakland on Saturday and grabbing boxes of prescription drugs off the shelves
OAKLAND: Store employees told KGO-TV reporter Dion Lim they were ‘overwhelmed and devastated’ by the brazen theft, as it is a small drug store and does not have the same resources as chains like CVS or Walgreens
These thefts occurred as police in nearby Walnut Creek, about 25 miles from San Francisco, warned that there could be a repeat of the stealing spree that community saw the night before.
‘The Walnut Creek PD is actively monitoring intelligence that indicates the group of thieves who stole from the Broadway Plaza Nordstrom last night are considering similar activity later today,’ the Walnut Creek Police Department tweeted Sunday night.
‘This has not been confirmed, but out of an abundance of caution, we’re alerting businesses and residents to be prepared … some stores may consider closing early or taking other precautions.
‘There is no specific time or target known right now,’ the police department noted.
Eighty looters ransacked a Nordstrom store in the area on Saturday night, injuring at least three employees in a raid that lasted less than a minute.
The large group, wearing ski masks and carrying crowbars, rushed the Walnut Creek store, stole an undetermined amount of merchandise and fled in their vehicles.
During the theft, two Nordstrom workers were punched and kicked, while another was sprayed with pepper spray. All three individuals were treated for their injuries on scene.
Walnut Creek police have arrested three people in connection to the incident and they are facing various charges including robbery, conspiracy, burglary, possession of stolen property and a weapons charge.
Officials have declared the robbery was ‘organized retail theft.’
WALNUT CREEK: On Saturday, a group of about eighty looters ransacked a Nordstrom store
WALNUT CREEK: The incident took less than a minute before the suspects got back in their car and fled the scene
WALNUT CREEK: Police were able to arrest three people in the Nordstrom theft on Saturday night
On Friday, the Louis Vuitton store in San Francisco’s Union Square was also targeted and ransacked by a group of more than a dozen thieves.
Police responded to the store shortly after 8pm Friday where they ‘observed several suspects involved in criminal acts.’
California’s Proposition 47 – lighter sentences for thieves
Proposition 47 was passed by California voters on November 5, 2014.
It made some ‘non-violent’ property crimes, where the value of the stolen goods does not exceed $950, into misdemeanors.
It also made some ‘simple’ drug possession offenses into misdemeanors, and allows past convictions for these charges to be reduced to a misdemeanor by a court.
Under California law, though, if two or more person’s conspire to ‘cheat and defraud any person or any property, by any means which are in themselves criminal’ they can face no more than one year in county prison, a fine of $10,000 or a combination of the two.
Witnesses recorded video of masked thieves running through the streets with their hands full of clothing items and bags.
Law enforcement officers are seen chasing after a thief to their parked getaway car and bashing in the windows with batons, dragging the culprit out of the car and restraining them on the sidewalk.
Footage also showed the decimated storefront with shattered glass all over the sidewalk and totally empty shelves.
Police confirmed they had arrested multiple suspects and that the Louis Vuitton store may have not been the only one targeted.
They were able to recover thousands of dollars’ worth of merchandise, the police chief said in a news conference the next day.
Police are now working to determine whether the three thefts over the weekend are connected, the San Francisco Chronicle reports.
Sunday’s incident in Hayward happened in Alameda County, while the Walnut Creek ransacking took place in Contra Costa County, and San Jose’s Lululemon incident happened within Santa Clara County.
It is unclear whether the brazen robbers involved in these thefts will face charges, as California’s Proposition 47, passed by voters in 2014 made some ‘non-violent’ property crimes, where the value of the stolen goods does not exceed $950, into misdemeanors.
The suspects involved in these robberies, however, seemed to have conspired to commit them, and under California law, ‘If two or more person’s conspire to cheat and defraud any person or any property, by any means which are in themselves criminal’ they can face no more than one year in county prison, a fine of $10,000 or a combination of the two.
Oakland Councilman Loren Taylor said the brazen thefts over the past few days qualify as ‘organized crime,’ telling KPIX on Sunday: ‘This is criminal activity.’
DailyMail.com has reached out to the District Attorney’s Offices in Alameda County, Santa Clara County and San Francisco County for comment.
A spokesperson for the Almeda County District Attorney’s Office replied that they cannot speculate on charges.
SAN FRANCISCO: A suspect was seen running away with an armful of merchandise after stealing from a Luis Vuitton store in San Francisco’s Union Square on Friday night
On Monday, California Governor Gavin Newsom vowed to get tough on these organized gangs of thieves,
Newsom, the former mayor of San Francisco, said he had ‘no sympathy or empathy’ for those involved in the brazen thefts, which were caught on camera.
The video clips went viral on social media, causing embarrassment for local officials in the Bay Area who have struggled to get a grip on the problem.
This past summer, Newsom signed a law aimed at curbing organized retail theft.
The law reestablishes the crime of organized retail theft, which lawmakers first created in 2018 but allowed to lapse as of July 1.
Prosecutors can again seek to charge the crime as either a misdemeanor or a felony.
It applies to those who work with others to steal merchandise either from brick-and-mortar stores or online, with the intent to sell or return the merchandise.
The legislation also applies to someone who works with others to receive stolen merchandise, those who steal for others as part of an organized theft ring or people who do the recruiting or organizing for the theft ring.
The governor on Monday pledged to provide ‘exponential level of support’ in the next state budget to help cities combat retail theft rings.
‘We want people prosecuted and we want people to feel safe,’ Newsom said during an appearance at a Bay Area vaccine clinic, where he was promoting booster shots.
‘They must be held to account.’
Newsom said his office met with retailers over the weekend who asked for more police patrols.
‘You will see substantially more starting today, in and around areas that are highly trafficked and coming into the holiday season Black Friday in shopping malls,’ he told reporters.
California Governor Gavin Newsom vowed on Monday to get tough with organized gangs of thieves who have ransacked and looted luxury retail stores in the San Francisco Bay Area
But the widespread looting is not isolated to California – recently, officials outside of Chicago, Illinois have also reported an uptick in brazen thefts.
Last Wednesday, police say, at least 14 people forced their way into a Luis Vuitton Store in Oak Brook – about 20 miles outside of Chicago – and made off with at least $120,000 in merchandise.
Oak Brook officials told WLS they responded to a report from mall security at around 3.31pm of several people partaking in a ‘grab and run’ of merchandise.
They said the individuals rushed into the store at the Oak Brook Center Mall, took out garbage bags and began filling them with items before fleeing in three separate vehicles.
Surveillance footage from inside the store shows masked shoplifters pour into the store, grabbing handbags and other merchandise while shoppers ran away.
Police were later able to recover one of the vehicles, a Dodge Charger, that was reported stolen in October out of Chicago.
Investigators told WLS they have information on the three vehicles the thieves drove away in, with Police Chief James Kruger saying his crew is working with investigators in the northern Chicago suburb of Northbrook, where eight people took off with $66,000 worth of merchandise from another Luis Vuitton store.
In that case, in October, police said 13 drivers targeted a store at the Northbrook Court Mall.
OAK BROOK, ILLINOIS: Surveillance footage from inside a Luis Vuitton store showed masked shoplifters, top right, pour into the store and grab handfuls of merchandise as customers ran away
OAK BROOK, ILLINOIS: Police say the shoplifters took out garbage bags and began filling them with items before fleeing in three separate vehicles
Police in Oak Brook are now reportedly turning to Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul for help.
‘The attorney general is looking into this investigation as well as whether or not to tie it to a larger-scale investigation,’ Police Chief James Kruger told WLS.
Raoul had previously set up a public-private partnership to combat the rise in organized retail crime.
The Organized Retail Crime Task Force comprises career investigators and attorneys from the Attorney General’s Criminal Enforcement Division, working in concert with the United States Secret Service, Department of Homeland Security, the Illinois State Police, the Barrington Police Department, the West Chicago Police Department, the Cook County Sheriff’s Office, the Illinois Association of Chiefs of Police and the Illinois Association of State’s Attorneys.
They will consult with the Illinois Retail Merchants Association, the Magnificent Mile Association, the Chicago Automobile Trade Association, the Internet Association, as well as national retailers like CVS, Home Deport, Lowes, Target, Walgreens and Walmart to combat organized thefts.
‘These brazen, violent crimes are committed by sophisticated criminal organizations that are involved in drug trafficking, human trafficking and other serious crimes,’ Raoul announced in September.
‘Even during the looting we saw last year, we came to understand that some of these criminal acts were not merely opportunistic, but organized in advance,’ he said.
‘The Organized Retail Crime Task Force will allow investigators and prosecutors in my office to better collaborate with our law enforcement partners and ensure cooperation between law enforcement, as well as retailers and online marketplaces, to protect communities, consumers and combat the rise in retail crime.’