In San Francisco, gangs of looters have taken brazen theft to all-new levels. On Saturday, a group conducted a “smash and grab” operation at the Louis Vuitton store in the Union Square district. The thieves made off with at least tens of thousands of dollars worth of exclusive merchandise.
A similar robbery was carried out at a Louis Vuitton store last week at a mall in the Chicago suburb of Oak Brook, Illinois. In that operation, 14 robbers ran into the store at 3:30 in the afternoon. They all grabbed as much of the store’s luxury merchandise as they could carry and ran out of the store to three waiting getaway cars.
Police in San Francisco has reported similar attack thefts in Union Square. A spokesperson said that the police department is deploying additional officers to “address the fluid and evolving situation.”
The Union Square district is home to several high-end retailers and has historically been considered a center for tourism in the city. Some of the other outlets that have been attacked in the area include Fendi, Burberry, Bloomingdale’s, Yves Saint Laurent, and Dolce & Gabbana. Police have consistently reported broken windows and other property damage in addition to the robberies.
Democratic San Francisco Mayor London Breed held a press appearance Saturday to address the spike in organized gang robberies. She said that the city planned to change automobile access to Union Square and hours when businesses would open. She did not comment on how restricting access to a critical retail center could help retailers and consumers or significantly reduce crime.
According to the San Francisco police, eight people have been arrested due to the recent attacks.
Over the weekend, at least four other incidents of similar organized “smash and grabs” occurred around the San Francisco Bay area, including San Jose and Walnut Creek.
California has seen shoplifting and retail theft surging since increasing the amount stolen to trigger felony charges to $950. In addition to high-end retail stores, pharmacies and grocery stores are reporting brazen daylight thefts. Many retailers have left or have announced plans to leave the city as a result.