Monday, January 24

These are the measures that are being taken against business robberies


(CNN) — As shoppers are expected to return in droves to stores in the holiday shopping season, law enforcement agencies are mobilizing to stop a wave of “lightning robberies” organized in stores across the United States.

In Chicago, Los Angeles and other large cities, police departments are increasing patrols at businesses that have been targeted by robber mobs in blatant robberies. In Northern California, district attorneys formed an alliance to go after gangs of organized robbers. At the federal level, the FBI said it is in “close contact” with local law enforcement investigating these cases and is prepared to take further action.

“We recorded this wave of people invading stores in large numbers,” said San Francisco Police Chief William Scott. “It does not fit in my head that we can have a situation in which 20, up to 80 people can invade a store or a series of stores and there is no certain communication and certain organization.”

The weekend before Thanksgiving, thieves invaded Hayward’s Southland Mall in the San Francisco Bay Area, smashing windows with hammers in a store, seizing the jewelry and fleeing.

On November 20, three suspects after a gang ransacked a Nordstrom store in Walnut Creek, east of San Francisco. About 80 suspects were involved, fleeing the open-air mall in at least 10 vehicles, according to police. That robbery followed similar robberies that weekend near Union Square in San Francisco, where thieves attacked Louis Vuitton, Burberry and Bloomingdale’s stores, a Walgreens and cannabis dispensaries.

“To instill fear in merchants, customers and the community in general”

Seven Bay Area prosecutors in San Joaquin, Contra Costa, Alameda, San Francisco, Marin, San Mateo and Santa Clara counties announced last week an alliance that also includes law enforcement and state agencies to combat organized theft in shops.

Each office agreed to assign a prosecutor to deal with the thieves, including the smuggling networks and the people who buy the stolen items, according to a joint statement.

“These are clearly carefully orchestrated crimes, working together in large groups to create a mob mentality,” Alameda County Prosecutor Nancy O’Malley said in the statement. “They are instilling fear in merchants, customers and the community at large. This is especially egregious at a time when many are away from home during the holiday season.”

Increase the presence of police forces in shops

Governor Gavin Newsom ordered the completion of “saturation patrolling” by the California Highway Patrol near major state retail locations during the holiday season in response to organized robberies.

Four men were arrested over the weekend in connection with a robbery at a Home Depot in California, where up to 10 people entered the Lakewood store Friday night and emerged with an array of tools typically used in hit-and-run robberies: hammers, sledgehammers, levers.

The four men, ranging in age from 19 to 22, were detained by Los Angeles Sheriff’s Office detectives and booked for conspiracy to commit robberies, according to authorities.

In Santa Monica, according to police, “the keen observation and quick thinking” of a downtown security guard may have thwarted a hit and run at a Nordstrom’s store last Friday.

Santa Monica Police Chief Ramón Batista said in a Facebook post Monday that the security guard asked police for help after seeing seven vehicles carrying about 28 people parked in a fire lane outside the store. The occupants of the vehicles left before the police arrived.

Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf on Monday blamed cuts in the number of police officers in the city for the spate of robberies and theft, as well as the rise in gun violence.

“More policemen”

“Let me be clear, Oakland needs more cops,” she told CNN’s Kate Bolduan.

Schaaf said the pandemic disrupted the recruitment and training of new agents in the city. The mayor called for greater coordination of law enforcement agencies at all levels to combat robberies in businesses.

“We need state and federal resources to stop those efforts,” he said. “The Lord knows that (the thieves) are coordinated. We also have to be coordinated.”

Organized robberies have been reported across the country, including one case involving at least 30 people who stole electronic devices from a Best Buy store during the so-called “Black Friday” en Burnsville, Minnesota.

In Illinois, Chicago Police Superintendent David Brown said Monday that his department was “especially focused” on hit-and-run robberies. Brown said two teens were arrested for stealing $ 8,500 worth of items from a beauty supply store.

Chicago Police Chief of Operations Brian McDermott said the department had increased patrols in the central business district and elsewhere, tracking “stolen cars and vehicles commonly used in these crimes.”

The FBI “is prepared to take a more active role”

An FBI spokesperson told CNN on Monday that federal agents are monitoring the wave of blatant robberies and staying in contact with local police.

“If information reaches us that constitutes a federal crime, we are prepared to take a more active role,” the spokesman said.

Stephanie Martz, managing director and general counsel for the National Retail Federation, said that hit-and-run thefts have gradually increased over the past year and a half, starting with drug stores and spreading to department stores and high-end retailers.

About 69% of retailers reported an increase in organized crime in retail in the past year, citing factors ranging from the pandemic to changes in sentencing guidelines, according to a 2021 Retail Safety Survey by the National Retail Federation. Many of the retailers that participated in the online survey also said that the suspects have become more aggressive and violent.

Recent gang robbery incidents come at a time when, according to experts, there has been a decline in property crime across the board for decades.

The Uniform FBI Crime Report showed that the property crime rate in the country reached its lowest level in 2020. According to the National Commission for Covid and Criminal Justice (NCCCJ), this downward trend has continued in 2021 .

In its most recent report, the NCCCJ, which studies crime in 34 major cities, reported a 7% decline in non-residential burglaries between the first quarter of 2020 and 2021. However, San Francisco, where many of the hit-and-run burglaries have occurred, reported a strong Increase in robberies in 2020 compared to 2019. It is an outlier in California where the robbery rate has steadily decreased over time.

Shoplifting data, however, can be flawed. For example, a report from the San Francisco Chronicle showed that the city’s monthly shoplifting reports in 2021 experienced a dramatic spike in September stemming from a Target store that had recently switched to a new reporting system.

– CNN’s Priya Krishnakumar contributed to this report.


cnnespanol.cnn.com

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