Bay Area robberies that target well-known retailers have gotten out of control over the past several days, so much so that it has Governor Gavin Newsom saying he is taking action. Thieves in large groups or mobs are ransacked stores across the region last weekend, stealing tens of thousands of dollars in merchandise, and in some cases, terrorizing shoppers and workers. In the latest incident, a group of suspects walked into the Lululemon store at San Jose’s Santana Row around 6:30 Sunday night and walked out with $40,000 worth of high-end fitness apparel.
In a separate incident, as NBC Bay Area reports, just an hour earlier at Southland Mall in Hayward, police tried to catch a group of nine suspects who smashed the cases at Sam’s Jewelry and made off with fists full of jewelry worth around $7,000.
Perhaps the most brazen and organized of the latest incidents happened Saturday night at Nordstrom in Walnut Creek when dozens of suspects used up to 25 cars to block off the street near the entrance and rush in. As many as 80 looters ransacked the store while assaulting at least three store workers.
“I probably saw 50 to 80 people in ski masks and crowbars. They were looting the Nordstrom right here. I had to start locking the front door. The back door. You never know. They could have come right in here,” nearby restaurant worker Brett Barrett told NBC Bay Area. Walnut Creek Police were able to make three arrests but everyone else took off with bags and arms loaded with merchandise. Many hopped into awaiting getaway cars.
On Friday night around 8 p.m. in San Francisco’s Union Square, a group of thieves pushed down a guard then emptied out the Louis Vuitton Store. Officers were able to nab six of the suspects in that case but some got away. “We have been working with cities up and down the state including San Francisco, Walnut Creek, and others that were impacted over this weekend,” Governor Gavin Newsom told KPIX during a COVID vaccine campaign push in the Bay Area.
Newsom says he knows the direct impact these crimes have on business owners. “We want to protect people and we want to respect people’s rights, including small business owners and I say this knowing that my business has been broken into three times this year,” Newsom told KPIX, referring to multiple recent break-ins at his family's PlumpJack Wine & Spirits (3201 Fillmore Street).
Newsom says shoppers will notice more police around popular stores and malls starting today, as well as more CHP presence near holiday shopping destinations. “We are going to be more aggressive still in this space to help support cities and the prosecution. I have no sympathy, no empathy whatsoever for people smashing and grabbing, stealing people’s items, creating havoc and terror on our streets. None. Period.”