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According to experts, incidents of brazenly organized night-time shoplifting in many US cities, during which thieves ransacked stores and made off with merchandise, are the culmination of the failure to prosecute criminals and the normalization of such behavior.

Police said the most recent incident occurred on Monday when a crowd of at least 20 people broke windows with a hammer and stole thousands of dollars worth of merchandise at a Nordstrom department store in The Grove, a popular shopping and entertainment complex in Los Angeles. At least three suspects have been arrested.

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The thefts followed a series of loot and grabbing incidents in the San Francisco area over the weekend, in which a Nordstrom in Walnut Creek was hit by at least 90 people, some wearing ski masks and armed with crowbars. Officials said three people have been charged in the theft, during which two employees were assaulted and one was sprayed with pepper.

80 robbers in ski masks attacked with crows and weapons at Nordstrom, California: Witnesses

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A Louis Vuitton in San Francisco’s Union Square was nearly empty Friday night as thieves were seen fleeing the high-end retailer with weapons of expensive consignment. Nine suspects have been charged in that sabotage. Other stores targeted in the city that same night included Bloomingdales, Burberry, Yves Saint Laurent, a Walgreens and a cannabis dispensary, officials said. All told, at least 12 stores in the city were targeted over the weekend alone.

Across the bay in Oakland, Wellspring Pharmacy was robbed on Saturday after dozens of robbers wearing black hoodies and masks ransacked shelves and fled with drugs.

In suburban Chicago, 14 suspects stole $100,000 worth of merchandise from a Louis Vuitton store last week because they grabbed everything they could take. On November 12, an Ulta beauty store in Oak Brook, Illinois was robbed of $15,000.

Security experts cited several reasons for the brazen nature of the crimes.

Louis Vuitton shop in SF’s Union Square ’emptied’ by thieves; 8 Arrested: Report

Pete Eliadis, a former law enforcement officer and CEO of security company Intelligence Consulting Partners, told Granthshala News: “Not only is it being tolerated because we’re seeing more of it, but we’re seeing that there is no prosecution involved.” Is.” “Law enforcement is not going to engage with that type of element because it’s a sanctioned crime.”

On Tuesday, San Francisco Mayor London Breed announced that the city would limit car access to Union Square in response to the burglary crowd. The Bay Area has been particularly hard hit by retail thieves. According to police data, there has been a 753% increase in such crimes in the Central District from May last year to 2021.

To disrupt and eliminate crime rings, elected officials and officials need to get serious about prosecution, said Betsy Smith, a former Chicago area law enforcement officer and spokeswoman for the National Police Association.

She notes that the suspected burglars involved in the Ulta Beauty smash-and-grab in Oak Brook will be prosecuted because it sits outside Cook County, her Chicago home.

“The people who did that are in jail,” Smith said. “The people who did that stuff didn’t realize they crossed the county line into DuPage County… and DuPage County state attorneys don’t tolerate that.”

The criminal network has taken a toll on at least one major electronic retailer.

“I think you’ve probably seen in the media that in retail, we’re certainly seeing more and more, especially organized retail crime and shrinkage in our locations. And I think you’ve seen other retail Heard vendors talk about it, and we’ve certainly seen it too.” Best Buy CEO Corey Barry said about the company third,quarterly earnings Call on Tuesday.

In a separate call, she told reporters that the company is seeing an increase in organized theft across the country, but particularly in San Francisco.

Even before the events of this past weekend, several Bay Area incidents involving thieves went viral and highlighted a growing trend. One involved a man who threw the goods in a garbage bag and then cycled through Walgreens in front of store staff and security personnel.

In Los Angeles, officials have warned of a trend of so-called “follow-home” robberies in which suspects have targeted victims in the city’s Jewelery District, high-end restaurants and nightclubs. Then they chase and rob them at home or isolated areas like parking lots.

Earlier this month, the LAPD said it was investigating 110 such robberies involving at least six different street gangs. On Tuesday, the LAPD announced the creation of a Follow Home Task Force comprising 20 detectives from its Robbery and Homicide Division to address the crimes.

Some retailers and California’s elected officials have placed the blame on Proposition 47, a voter-approved measure that downgraded theft charges from felony to misdemeanor under $950.

State Assembly member Kevin Kelly, a Republican, said he intends to introduce legislation to put the law on the ballot in an effort to repeal it.

“You have people who can go from department store to department store and get them impunity,” Kelly told Granthshala News. “It’s one of the things that’s making California, especially San Francisco, just livable and unsafe.”

The lower limit gives criminal gangs an incentive to commit crimes without fear of prosecution, Kelly said. Earlier this month, San Francisco District Attorney Chesa Boudin announced charges against a “prolific retail thief” for 120 incidents involving the theft of more than $40,000 worth of merchandise from a Target store over the course of a year. .

At the state level, California Governor Gavin Newsom signed a bill in July to address organized piracy, creating a crime task force around the California Highway Patrol and local agencies.

Whatever the reason for the increase in theft, experts agree that the COVID-19 pandemic is not to blame.

“It’s so silly,” Smith said. ,[Chicago Mayor] Lori Lightfoot still hangs over it. She blames every crime in Chicago on the pandemic.”

“When we were closed in the eye of the pandemic, I didn’t feel any great need to steal from my local Ulta or Louis Vuitton store,” she said.

In addition to the cost of doing business, the consequences of large-scale retail theft can impact communities. Walgreens announced in October that it planned to close at least five San Francisco locations in response to mass thefts.

“If you own a store and your store keeps getting robbed, and you know there’s going to be no return on the prosecution’s end, why would you reinvest in that community?” Eliadis said.