Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes of website accessibility
What's Behind Aggressive Mobs Targeting Retailers? Experts Point to Criminal Networks.
gvw_ap_news
By Associated Press
Published 2 years ago on
November 23, 2021

Share

A group of thieves smashed windows at a department store at a luxury mall in Los Angeles, triggering a police pursuit just days after high-end stores throughout the San Francisco Bay Area were targeted.

The latest incident in a national trend of smash-and-grab crimes targeted a Nordstrom store at The Grove retail and entertainment complex. It came as the country’s largest consumer electronics chain said that an increase in organized theft was taking a toll on its bottom line.

The LA group struck around 10:40 p.m., said Officer Drake Madison, a Los Angeles Police Department spokesman. Officers pursued an SUV involved in the crime and the chase ended in South Los Angeles with three people taken into custody, he said. The number of people involved in the crime was not known, Madison said.

The Grove incident followed a weekend of similar smash-and-grab thefts in the San Francisco Bay Area and Beverly Hills.

Brazen Thefts Ratcheting Up During Holiday Season

Groups of thieves, some carrying crowbars and hammers, smashed glass cases and window displays and ransacked high-end stores in brazen organized theft throughout the Bay Area, stealing jewelry, sunglasses, suitcases and other merchandise before fleeing in waiting cars.

The thefts are believed to be part of sophisticated criminal networks that recruit mainly young people to steal merchandise in stores throughout the country and then sell it in online marketplaces. Experts and law enforcement officials say the thefts are ratcheting up as the holiday shopping season gets underway.

The National Retail Federation said a recent survey found stores are seeing an increase in organized thefts and perpetrators being more aggressive.

Best Buy Blames Lost Profits on Organized Crime

The electronics chain Best Buy on Tuesday cited organized theft as one of the reasons for a decline in gross profit margin in the third quarter.

“We are definitely seeing more and more particularly organized retail crime and incidents of shrink in our locations,” Best Buy CEO Corie Barry told analysts during a conference call Tuesday. “This is a real issue that hurts and scares real people.”

Barry told reporters during a separate call that the company is seeing organized theft increase across the country, but particularly in San Francisco. She said the company is hiring security guards and working with its vendors on creative ways to stage the product.

The weekend robberies started in San Francisco Friday around 8 p.m., when packs of people broke into stores including Louis Vuitton, Burberry and Bloomingdale’s in the downtown area and in Union Square, a posh shopping district popular with tourists that was teeming with holiday shoppers.

Videos of the chaotic scene posted on social media by witnesses showed police officers dragging one suspect from a waiting car and people running with merchandise in their arms or dragging suitcases.

Young Recruits Paid Up to $1,000 to Steal

The flash mobs are usually organized by local people who recruit their crews and send them to steal specific merchandise requested by criminal organizations throughout the country, said Ben Dugan, president of the Coalition of Law Enforcement and Retail.

Those who do the stealing get paid between $500 and $1,000 to take as much as they can and bring it back to organizers who ship it to other parts of the country.

“Crew bosses organize them, they’ll give him the crowbars, and in some cases even rent them cars, or provide them with escape routes or a list of products to actually go out and steal. It looks very chaotic but it’s actually very well organized,” Dugan said.

Some people were also armed with guns in nearly all the weekend robberies.

‘High Profit…for the Thrill’

“We’re not talking about someone who needs money or needs food. These are people who go out and do this is for high profit, and for the thrill,” said Ben Dugan, president of the Coalition of Law Enforcement and Retail.

Gov. Gavin Newsom said Monday that his office met with retailers over the weekend who asked for more police patrols.

He said increased enforcement would start immediately “in and around areas that are highly trafficked and coming into the holiday season Black Friday in shopping malls.”

Retailers lose about $65 billion each year to organized theft, the bulk stolen by professional thieves, Dugan said.

Last week, fourteen suspects went into a Louis Vuitton store in Oak Brook, a Chicago suburb, pulled large plastic bags from their coats and filled them with clothing and other items, stealing more than $120,000 in merchandise, police said.

RELATED TOPICS:

DON'T MISS

Biden Scores Endorsements from Kennedy Family, Looking to Shore Up Support Against Trump and RFK Jr.

DON'T MISS

CJ Abrams’ Leadoff Homer Lifts Nationals Over Dodgers 2-0

DON'T MISS

See the Fully Equipped House Homeless People Built on LA Freeway Strip

DON'T MISS

Juror Dismissed From Trump Hush Money Trial. Prosecutors Seek to Hold Former President in Contempt

DON'T MISS

Keaton Winn Throws Six Solid Innings as Giants Take Series From Marlins

DON'T MISS

Attorney Suing Fresno Grizzlies for $5 Million Is No Stranger to ‘Ladies Night’ Cases

DON'T MISS

Hagrid Has a Bit of a Playful Side, but the Heart of a Giant. And He’s Ready for Adoption

DON'T MISS

Biden Backs House’s Aid Package for Ukraine, Israel While Speaker Johnson Battles to Retain Position

DON'T MISS

Hot Rod Willys: Driven to Bake the Perfect Chicago-Style Pizza

DON'T MISS

Local Leaders Must Put Their Shoulders Into Making Fresno ‘Education City USA’

UP NEXT

See the Fully Equipped House Homeless People Built on LA Freeway Strip

UP NEXT

Juror Dismissed From Trump Hush Money Trial. Prosecutors Seek to Hold Former President in Contempt

UP NEXT

Attorney Suing Fresno Grizzlies for $5 Million Is No Stranger to ‘Ladies Night’ Cases

UP NEXT

Hagrid Has a Bit of a Playful Side, but the Heart of a Giant. And He’s Ready for Adoption

UP NEXT

Biden Backs House’s Aid Package for Ukraine, Israel While Speaker Johnson Battles to Retain Position

UP NEXT

Hot Rod Willys: Driven to Bake the Perfect Chicago-Style Pizza

UP NEXT

Local Leaders Must Put Their Shoulders Into Making Fresno ‘Education City USA’

UP NEXT

EdSource Welcomes Fresno News Veteran Jim Boren to Its Board

UP NEXT

Senate Dismissed Two Articles of Impeachment, Ending Trial on Mayorkas

UP NEXT

Netanyahu Dismisses Calls for Restraint, Says Israel Will Decide Iran Attack Response

Juror Dismissed From Trump Hush Money Trial. Prosecutors Seek to Hold Former President in Contempt

50 mins ago

Keaton Winn Throws Six Solid Innings as Giants Take Series From Marlins

1 hour ago

Attorney Suing Fresno Grizzlies for $5 Million Is No Stranger to ‘Ladies Night’ Cases

1 hour ago

Hagrid Has a Bit of a Playful Side, but the Heart of a Giant. And He’s Ready for Adoption

Animals /

5 hours ago

Biden Backs House’s Aid Package for Ukraine, Israel While Speaker Johnson Battles to Retain Position

18 hours ago

Hot Rod Willys: Driven to Bake the Perfect Chicago-Style Pizza

18 hours ago

Local Leaders Must Put Their Shoulders Into Making Fresno ‘Education City USA’

19 hours ago

EdSource Welcomes Fresno News Veteran Jim Boren to Its Board

20 hours ago

Senate Dismissed Two Articles of Impeachment, Ending Trial on Mayorkas

20 hours ago

Netanyahu Dismisses Calls for Restraint, Says Israel Will Decide Iran Attack Response

21 hours ago

Biden Scores Endorsements from Kennedy Family, Looking to Shore Up Support Against Trump and RFK Jr.

PHILADELPHIA — President Joe Biden will accept endorsements from at least 15 members of the Kennedy political family during a campaign stop ...

3 mins ago

3 mins ago

Biden Scores Endorsements from Kennedy Family, Looking to Shore Up Support Against Trump and RFK Jr.

9 mins ago

CJ Abrams’ Leadoff Homer Lifts Nationals Over Dodgers 2-0

29 mins ago

See the Fully Equipped House Homeless People Built on LA Freeway Strip

50 mins ago

Juror Dismissed From Trump Hush Money Trial. Prosecutors Seek to Hold Former President in Contempt

1 hour ago

Keaton Winn Throws Six Solid Innings as Giants Take Series From Marlins

1 hour ago

Attorney Suing Fresno Grizzlies for $5 Million Is No Stranger to ‘Ladies Night’ Cases

Animals /
5 hours ago

Hagrid Has a Bit of a Playful Side, but the Heart of a Giant. And He’s Ready for Adoption

18 hours ago

Biden Backs House’s Aid Package for Ukraine, Israel While Speaker Johnson Battles to Retain Position

MENU

CONNECT WITH US

Search

Send this to a friend