Who could have guessed that reducing the penalties for theft and “defunding the police” would have resulted in putting a new twist on Black Friday savings?
Last week, I noted that organized masked thieves bands pillaged San Francisco area stores.
This weekend, there are more reports throughout California over flash mob thefts. For example, in the Los Angeles area, hardware and home improvement equipment was the target.
At least two such robberies were reported on Saturday by the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) and the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department. A local television station, KCAL-TV, counted a total of six smash-and-grab heists on the city’s west side alone on Friday.
In one incident, a group of eight men entered a Home Depot outlet at a shopping mall in Lakewood, south of downtown Los Angeles, walked directly to the tool aisle and snatched a bunch of hammers, sledgehammers and crowbars valued at about $400 before making their getaway, the sheriff’s office said.
According to L.A. television station KTTV, the Home Depot robbery on Friday night involved up to 20 suspects who pulled up to the store in as many as 10 cars and donned ski masks before raiding the tool aisle.
Elsewhere in Southern California, designer purses were the focus of the flash mob thieves.
Los Angeles police said a security guard was sprayed with an irritant meant to deter charging bears at the Westfield Topanga & The Village shopping center in Canoga Park. The stolen bags were estimated to be worth $25,000, local media reported.
The LAPD was also investigating a similar incident in which groups entered several stores in the Beverly Center on Wednesday, grabbed merchandise and ran out. And on Monday, about 20 people took roughly $5,000 of merchandise from a Nordstrom store at Grove mall.
Police have described the incidents as “flash mob thefts,” and they’ve been happening in several other cities across California.
In Minnesota, two Best Buy stores were hit.
One incident occurred near the Burnsville mall in suburban Minneapolis with about 12 people rushing in to steal items, while a second incident occurred in Maplewood – about 25 miles northeast – on Friday night with a larger group of 30 people looting electronics.
Both incidents occurred at around the same time and police are looking to see if they are connected in any way.
…Local police have not said how much merchandise was stolen but noted that those involved in the heist did not use any weapons as they took TVs, tablets and hoverboards away with them.
‘A lot of crazy theft stuff going on. Not good,’ Best Buy shopper Sean Misgen told CBS News at the store in Maplewood. ‘Especially with the car theft going on and all that sort of thing, you gotta be careful.’
The escalation in organized theft has real consequences on the economy, both locally and nationally.
On Tuesday, Best Buy’s shares fell 16 per cent after the nation’s largest consumer electronics retail chain posted a drop in profit for the fiscal quarter, citing organized theft – especially in San Francisco.
Best Buy CEO Corie Barry warned that businesses are in danger in the San Francisco area due to rampant looting.
‘We are definitely seeing more and more particularly organized retail crime and incidents of shrink in our locations,’ Barry, the company’s CEO, told analysts. ‘This is a real issue that hurts and scares real people.’
Barry warned that employees could start quitting their jobs, rather than face the threat of hammer- and crowbar-wielding thieves terrorizing stores in California with relative impunity due to lax shoplifting laws.
Best Buy’s top executive said the company is hiring security guards and keeping more products under lock and key.
Who could have guessed that reducing the penalties for theft and “defunding the police” would have resulted in putting a new twist on Black Friday savings?DONATE
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