Roaming packs of thieves ransacked another luxury retailer in Los Angeles on Black Friday before descending on Home Depot despite California Gov. Gavin Newsom’s vow to crack down on the string of organized ‘smash and grabs’ plaguing the state.
The Bottega Veneta store in LA trendy Beverly Grove shopping district saw a large group enter the store at 5:21 p.m. and snatch pricey merchandise before one robber pepper-sprayed someone in the face, the LA Police Department reported.
At the Home Deport, in Lakewood, eight people made their way into the home improvement chain at 7:55 p.m. and stole sledgehammers, wrenches and hammers, threatened customers and then fled in 10 getaway cars.
The Los Angeles County Sheriffs Department told CBS that the Home Deport robbery was especially worrying because the tools stolen could likely be used to rob more stores in the area.
Sheriff’s deputies added that an entire section of sledge hammers was cleared out at the Home Depot, hammers similar to those that gangs of thieves have used to smash glass displays to nab jewelery and other high-end products, like iPhones.
Both the Home Depot and Bottega Veneta incidents are currently under investigation.
The Bottega Veneta store also issued a statement saying it would limit the number of customers allowed inside its store, NBC reported.
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
The robberies come as Newsom, the former mayor of San Francisco – where the robberies have been most prominent – promised to end the ‘smash and grabs’ to avoid anymore damage to California stores before Black Friday.
The governor on Monday pledged to provide ‘exponential level of support’ in the next state budget to help cities combat retail theft rings.
Newsom said his office met with retailers last week 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 said.
On Wednesday, four young men, believed by police to be between the ages of 14 and 18, entered and grabbed $20,000 worth of merch from a Santa Rosa Apple store before fleeing in what authorities called a ‘brazen daytime burglary’ in broad daylight.
A detective from the Santa Rosa Police Department said they weren’t notified about the theft until 10 minutes after it occurred due to an Apple in-house protocol.
In the last week, thieves have made off with tens of thousands of dollars in luxury goods, amid soft misdemeanor theft laws in the Democrat-run state.
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.
Controversial state law Proposition 47 bars prosecutors from charging suspected shoplifters accused of stealing less than $950 worth of merchandise with felonies.
‘People see the ability to commit these ‘smash-and-grab incidents’ knowing that there is little consequence, especially if the thefts are kept below the threshold of a felony offense,’ Lynda Buel, president of Ohio-based security consulting firm SRMC, told CNN. ‘It’s easy, it’s fast, and the payback is good.’
Police official blame the law for the recent string of thefts, which include 20 robbers smashing their way into a Nordstrom at The Grove retail complex in LA on Monday night, making off with $5,000 worth of merchandise; and a CVS pharmacy in the city was struck just an hour later, where looters stole $8,000 from a cash register.
Nine people have been charged in connection with robberies last week at 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.
Ben Dugan, president of the Coalition of Law Enforcement and Retail, said: ‘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.’
Aside from the organized crime rings, the growing problem has been attributed to police officers’ apparent reluctance to pursue retail criminals in the current political climate, prosecutors’ failure to prioritize larceny and theft, and the decriminalization of low-level offenses in some jurisdictions.
Law enforcement also say that mercenary thieves are being recruited for up to $1,000 to steal the expensive goods which are then shipped across state lines and sold on the internet. The sophisticated method makes it harder for cops to track the criminals.
Best Buy CEO Corie Berry said this week that the situation has become so dire that her company is stepping up security measures to protect its staff and shoppers.
‘This is traumatizing for our associates and is unacceptable,’ Barry said on a call with analysts on Tuesday. ‘We are doing everything we can to try to create [an] as safe as possible environment.’
Barry warned that employees could start quitting their jobs, rather than face the threat of hammer- and crowbar-wielding thieves terrorizing stores.
Police were able to pursue one of the getaway cars, which had fled onto the 110 Freeway
The robbery (not pictured) occurred at 7pm on the eve of Thanksgiving and left a security guard injured.
Last week, the San Francisco Bay Area saw a string of audacious ‘smash-and-grab’ robberies, including an incident involving a gaggle of hammer-wielding masked bandits who ransacked jewelry, sunglasses and clothing stores at the Southland Mall in the San Jose suburb of Hayward.
Dramatic footage released on Monday showed a group of about 40 to 50 robbers smashing glass display cases at Sam’s Jewelers at the mall at around 5:30 p.m. on Sunday. Staffers are seen screaming in terror as the heist unfolded.
Around the same time last Sunday evening, packs of thieves ransacked a sunglasses store and a Lululemon store in San Jose, stealing nearly $50,000 in merchandise, San Jose police Sgt. Christian Camarillo said Monday.
The group that targeted the Lululemon store included two women and two men, including one who had a ‘visible gun in his waistband,’ he added.
Last Saturday, police said as many as 80 suspects, some wearing ski masks and carrying crowbars, targeted a Nordstrom in the San Francisco suburb of Walnut Creek, assaulting employees and stealing merchandise before fleeing in waiting cars, police and witnesses said.
Two employees were assaulted and one was hit with pepper spray during what police called a ‘clearly a planned event.’ Walnut Creek police said they arrested two suspects and recovered a gun.
A day prior, roving bands of thieves brandishing hammers and crowbars hit a string of high-end retailers, including Louis Vuitton, Burberry and Bloomingdales, as well as a Walgreens pharmacy and several marijuana dispensaries, in the vicinity of Union Square in San Francisco, a high-end area popular with tourist that was crowded with holiday shoppers.
A group of about 40 to 50 teenage shoplifters made off with an unknown amount of jewelry and other items in Hayward, California, on Sunday. Experts and officials say national crime networks are behind many of the ‘smash-and-grab ‘ operations
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 fleein
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.
The ‘smash-and-grab’ operations are usually organized by local people who recruit their crews and send them to steal specific merchandise requested by criminal organizations throughout the country, Dugan said.
‘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.
Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul said in September that large-scale store thefts orchestrated by organized crime rings are costing retailers across the US an estimated $45billion in annual losses.
Raoul has formed the Organized Retail Crime Task Force comprised of public and private entities to tackle the problem head on.
‘These brazen, violent crimes are committed by sophisticated criminal organizations that are involved in drug trafficking, human trafficking and other serious crimes,’ Raoul said.
‘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.’
Terrified Black Friday shoppers run for their lives as three people including a 10-year-old boy are shot and three more are injured in North Carolina mall: One person is also shot at a shopping center in Washington state
Black Friday shoppers were seen running for cover after a suspected gunman terrorized people at a shopping mall in Durham, North Carolina, which was crowded with shoppers on the day after Thanksgiving.
Three people were shot in the chaos – including a 10-year-old boy – and three others injured during the incident, which occurred following an apparent fight on Friday at a crowded mall in Durham. The shooting happened at around 3:20pm.
Later on Friday evening, authorities say shots were fired near a food court at a mall in Tacoma, Washington.
At least one person was struck and injured at the Tacoma Mall just after 7pm, Pierce County Sheriff’s Sgt. Darren Moss said.
The three people who were hurt in North Carolina were injured during the evacuation. They include a 10-year-old who was hurt by a bullet ricocheting. The child was taken to a local hospital with injuries not thought to be life-threatening.
Shoppers at a North Carolina shopping mall were sent scrambling after gunfire broke out
People are seen running from Southpoint mall after a shooting incident inside occurred on Friday afternoon
Emergency vehicles congregate around the entrance to Belk at Southpoint Mall in Durham, North Carolina after three people, including a 10-year-old, were wounded in an afternoon shooting on Black Friday
Streets at Southpoint closes for the day after three people were shot and three others were hurt during an evacuation of the mall
The Durham Police Department issued a news release confirming there was a shooting that led to the mall being evacuated
Authorities said in the late afternoon that one person was detained and there was no further threat to the public. A bystander described ‘mass hysteria’ on one of the busiest shopping days of the year as shoppers ducked into stores for cover or ran for the exits.
‘DPD is investigating a shooting incident at The Streets at Southpoint,’ police in Durham, North Carolina, tweeted on Friday.
‘The mall is being evacuated and will be closed while DPD investigates the incident. Motorists are advised to avoid the area. There is no further threat at the mall.’
‘The shootings in this city have got to stop,’ said Durham Police Chief Patrice Andrews who revealed the shooting happened after an argument broke out between two groups who knew each other.
She said another three people were injured as shoppers rushed for exits following the shooting.
She said those involved in the fight that led to the shooting fled, but she vowed more arrests adding there was no further threat to the public.
‘This is not a situation where someone came into the mall and indiscriminately began firing,’ she said.
The mall said on its website that it was closed until further notice but did not elaborate.
An argument between two groups saw three people hurt including a 10-year-old his by a ricocheting bullet
Black Friday shoppers were seen running for cover after a suspected gunman terrorized people at a shopping mall in Durham, North Carolina which was crowded with shoppers on the day after Thanksgiving
Shoppers described a chaotic scene after the shots echoed through the mall, with some people taking cover in stores and others rushing for the exits
People cold be seen running from Southpoint mall after shooting attack inside in this still frame obtained from social media
Traffic could be seen snaked around the outside of the mall, with lines of cars trying to exit the parking lot, and numerous police cars with lights flashing outside a department store.
Shoppers said crowds of people began to run out of the mall after the noisy altercation that began with yelling and included what sounded like gunshots.
Video captured a chaotic scene after the shots echoed through the mall, with some people taking cover in stores and others rushing for the exits.
Angela Lloyd had gone to Southpoint with family members to start her Christmas shopping. She said she was walking out of a store when the chaos erupted.
‘I just hear shots firing, and as soon as that happened, everybody just kind of turned around and started running and screaming,’ she said in a phone interview. ‘Some people were running into stores, some people were almost crawling into stores. Just like mass hysteria.’
She took cover in a store herself, and she and others were directed to the dressing rooms in the back. One customer played a police scanner on his cellphone and kept people updated on what he heard, she said.
Her husband, Craig Lloyd, had just left the mall and was heading home to the town of Efland about 20 miles away when his wife called him from the dressing room.
‘She said `There’s gunshots. They’ve got us locked in the store,´’ Craig Lloyd said in a phone interview. ‘I turned around and went back to the mall.’
When he got back to the shopping center, Craig Lloyd said he observed a chaotic scene with some exiting the mall with their hands up and others like him trying to find loved ones. His wife was allowed to leave the mall more than an hour later.
Aury Moore and boyfriend Eddie Mendoza describe their frightening experience being inside the Tacoma Mall in Washington State while an active shooter fired outside, possibly killing one and injuring others on Friday night
Police cars swarm the Tacoma Mall in Washington State after an active shooter fired outside
A shooting near the food court Friday night left one person injured after being shot and locked down the Tacoma Mall
Witnesses reported hearing 2 to 14 gunshots. At least one person has been confirmed shot and injured and was taken to an area hospital
The shooting apparently began with a dispute between two groups of people, according to Tacoma police
More than 60 law enforcement officers from Tacoma, Pierce County, Lakewood, Puyallup and the Washington State Patrol converged on the scene
It was a similar terrifying scene across the country in Tacoma, Washington State as hundreds of shoppers sheltered in place or hid inside stores, which immediately went into lockdown following a shooting incident.
More than 60 law enforcement officers from Tacoma, Pierce County, Lakewood, Puyallup and the Washington State Patrol raced to the scene.
‘We’re sending people inside to do a coordinated search,’ Moss said.
Just as in North Carolina, the shooting apparently began with a dispute between two groups of people, according to Tacoma police spokesperson Gary Wurges.
‘We did a secondary search to make sure that we went through every single store,’ Wurges said. ‘We wanted to make sure that everybody was safe. And everybody that was there had a reason to be there.’
Fredrick Hoskins was shopping with his daughter inside the mall when he heard gunfire. At least one person was shot during the incident in which eyewitnesses say around 14 gunshots rang out.
‘There was a boom, boom, boom … boom, boom, boom. Maybe like six shots,’ Hoskins, who previously served in the military, told The News Tribune. ‘It sounded like a revolver, and it sounded like one shooter.’
Aury Moore posts, with boyfriend Eddie Mendoza, as the two are trapped inside Tacoma Mall in Washington State. The post reads: ‘So Eddie and I are at Tacoma Mall and while in one store people started running into the store we r in. Apparently there is a shooting. Pray please that we all get out of here alive’
In Washington State, a loss prevention officer fired at an armed suspect who attempted to steal merchandise from a Kennewick Walmart in Washington State
A suspect was shot and their car was later towed as a result
Another shooting occurred outside a Walmart store, also in Washington State.
Several shots were reportedly fired outside the store in Kennewick in southeast Washington State at around 12.30pm local time on Friday afternoon.
It’s not known if anyone was hurt or for how long the shooting went on for but one eyewitness is said to have heard six shots fired.
Police explained how the suspect tired to steal merchandise but was confronted by a security guard in the parking lot at which point the man pulled out a weapon.
The loss prevention officer who also had a gun then shot the armed suspect who fled.
It saw police from several different agencies descend on the scene including officers from KDP, as well as Benton County Sheriff’s deputies, and Washington State Patrol Troopers.
The Kennewick Police Department later confirmed that suspect had been detained after searching a nearby home and the scene was secured with a large portion of the parking lot blocked off.
The store employee fired at the suspect in the parking lot of the store in Kennewick, Washington
Away from This year’s Black Friday sales have kicked off with smaller lines and calmer crowds as