Retailers ramp up security, cities reroute traffic to combat organized theft rings

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Best Buy shoppers can expect to find more high-value merchandise behind closed shelves and a large security presence in some stores.

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A pair of private security companies, along Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills, Calif. are patrolling In response to Razzie Shopping District attempted robbery Last weekend in Louis Vuitton and Saks Fifth Avenue stores.

Meanwhile, in San Francisco’s Union Square, after the following a theft and sabotage On Friday night at nearly a dozen stores, including Louis Vuitton, Burberry and Bloomingdale’s, city officials announced that traffic patterns near high-end retailers have been re-adjusted so that thieves can’t easily park, rob And then increase the speed.


“We will do whatever we need to do to end this madness,” San Francisco Police Chief William Scott told reporters.

Not only in cities like San Francisco, Los Angeles and Chicago, where videos of such thefts have gone viral, but in affluent suburbs, which are usually worth tens of thousands of dollars, there is a looming fear of coordinated mass robberies. troubling retailers. the product.

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Dozens of Robbers Target California Nordstrom in Violent Robbery

November 22, 202101:59

Businesses, shopping malls and law enforcement agencies are weighing what to do to help customers start packing stores on the busiest shopping days, including Black Friday, and amid an economic backdrop of high prices and shipping delays. protective measures are to be taken. A recent survey by research firm NPD Group found that online sales are returning to pre-pandemic levels and brick-and-mortar stores are regaining their share of the retailing market as shoppers yearn to return to the personalized experience.

But the risk of looting incidents at already bustling stores could be “a dangerous rodeo,” said Reed Hayes, a criminologist at the University of Florida and director of the Los Prevention Research Council, a retail industry trade group.

Last Saturday, about 80 people ransacked a Nordstrom store in the San Francisco suburb of Walnut Creek and drove away with merchandise in an audacious flash-mob-style frenzy. Police said five employees suffered minor injuries and three people were arrested shortly after.

Walnut Creek officials have increased the presence of the city police and closed a road to cars to deter imitators.

Walnut Creek Mayor Kevin Wilk said, “If that means we’re going to have to detour the streets, if it means we have more police on the road and more security around, whatever it is, every option is on the table.” ” Told Granthshala Bay Area,

He also told Granthshala News that investigators are investigating how social media has been used to perpetrate organized retail robberies.

In San Francisco, officials have vowed to go after those responsible. District Attorney Chesa Boudin announced nine people arrested On Tuesday, in the Union Square theft and other cases, the suspects were accused of theft, grand theft, receiving stolen property and looting.

there were also three people arrested in the early hours of Tuesday Hours later, a large group attempted to break into Nordstrom at The Grove Mall in Los Angeles. A hammer was found at the scene.

Nordstrom said that as a result of the incidents in Los Angeles and Walnut Creek, it is “deploying security personnel inside and outside our stores and working closely with mall security and law enforcement to try and reduce the risk.” Is.”

There will also be more response training for employees and the retailer, which has 100 full-service stores nationwide, said it is “increasing our in-store security presence and implementing additional protective measures to keep everyone safe.” Used to be.”

California Governor Gavin Newsom announced this week that he would direct “substantially more” law enforcement officers into highly trafficked retail aisles, and the California Highway Patrol’s organized retail crime task force said it would close freeways adjacent to major shopping centers. Increasing its presence.

In August, Newsom, a Democrat, signed legislation that funds the task force until the end of 2025, “focusing on the gangsters and conspirators of these criminal networks, not low-level petty thieves.” He said He plans to propose more funding In the budget for the next financial year, towards tackling organized retail piracy across the state.

Newsom, who owns a hospitality company that includes liquor stores and restaurants, said he knows firsthand how devastating criminal acts can be after his business collapsed three times this year.

“I have no sympathy, no sympathy for the people who sabotage and grab people, steal people’s belongings, wreak havoc on our streets and create terror,” Newsom told reporters. “We want real accountability, we want people to be prosecuted, and we want people to feel safe this holiday season.”

To ward off criminals, Hayes said it could take a variety of tools at retailers’ disposal. Not only increasing the security presence, but also using technology that can render a stolen item ineffective until it is activated, installing products at trading locations, he said. , making them difficult to escape and also difficult to train employees. More alert as well as engaging in customer service.

“There’s been a flash rob/flash mob attempt for a long time,” Hayes said, “but it’s the most adventurous yet.”

Officials and retail experts say these more aggressive actions may have resulted, in part, by retailers also taking a tougher stance on criminal activities such as shoplifting. There is also money to be made by these organized retail rings that can collect millions of dollars worth of products and sell them online or in other countries, with their earnings back in the United States.

Law Enforcement and Retail Coalition, a trade association, an estimate Organized retail crime costs retailers about $45 billion each year, with more than $500 billion in illegal theft and counterfeit goods sold on third-party platforms like Amazon.

“Back when they hit me, they could sell to flea markets and friends, but now, it’s easy,” said Georgen Bender, a retail consultant in Illinois who worked in the 1980s with the Magnificent Mile commercial district in Chicago. He was the owner of a women’s boutique. , “There are eBay and Poshmark and a gazillion other places.”

Bender said smaller retailers may need to consider solutions such as closing doors and only allowing a limited number of guests at a time or requiring appointments, but those options are not buyer-friendly and “in a way or On entering another store, the crowd intends to go in.”

Best Buy CEO Corey Barry, who mourned the high-profile robbery incidents in the retail industry for earnings this week, said Tuesday on CNBC that he’s unsure what’s driving the crimes, but they’re hard to stop.

“We’re looking for ways where we can lock in the product but still make it a great customer experience,” Barry said in the earnings call. “In some instances, we are hiring security. We are working with our vendors in a creative way that allows us to stage the product.”

As retailers condemn the theft, a wave of incidents has been highlighted by industry groups to strengthen laws, which they say have been loosened to the detriment of businesses as some cities and states Move towards reducing low-level crimes.

in California, Property and violent crime rates have actually fallen To historic lows in recent years. And experts say it remains to be seen what long-term impact factors, such as the pandemic and friction between communities and police, on organized retail theft, and how widespread it may become.

Bender, a retail consultant, said stores are busy focusing on what’s to come: a major shopping weekend.

“There’s already a lot of landmines for retailers, how to stop shoppers, can we get enough merchandise,” she said.

“It’s a huge weekend for these stores, who want people to come in and be comfortable and happy,” he said, “not thinking in their minds whether they’re going to be hit by a horde of thieves.” I’m going to come.”

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