Brazen thieves steal from stores during holiday season

December 26, 2012 12:00:00 AM PST
San Francisco police say shoplifters take advantage of crowded stores during the holiday season, but three days before Christmas police nabbed a group of shoplifters who were caught on video.

Police say if you look closely at the video, three women walk in with shopping bags that were completely empty when they entered the Gymboree children's store in San Francisco's Laurel Heights.

San Francisco Officer Carlos Manfredi explains, "And then they fill it up inside the store, and then they usually just run outside the store and they make away with the merchandise."

Sharonie Lovely Powers, Debrina Charnelle Espinoza and Akalah Lashun Files were arrested after police say they stole from Gymboree, then walked a few doors down and tried to steal from the Gap. Police say one of them had mace in their bag.

"And if they do get stopped by say loss preventions or an officer or a sales associate, they'll turn around and spray them in the face to distract them and buy them more time," said Manfredi.

These women were no strangers to the store. In fact, the clerk immediately recognized them from past shoplifting incidents, and one of them had a stay away order for the Laurel Village store.

They've reportedly stolen from the Gymboree at least 10 times since the last holiday season and they've done it right in front of the store employees. They've reportedly threatened employees at the Gymboree and the Gap as they walked out with the merchandise. Because petty theft is misdemeanor, police say many shoplifters believe the payoff outweighs the risk of being simply arrested and released.

"We do believe that they may be linked to other thefts that occurred throughout the Bay Area retail stores," said Manfredi.

Police say they return the stolen goods for cash at affiliated stores. The hope is that other retailers have captured these women on surveillance cameras and can help convict them for what's believed to be a string of brazen crimes.


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