Bay Area district attorneys form alliance to combat organized retail theft

"This is not just a theft problem, this is organized," San Mateo County district attorney said.
SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- Bay Area prosecutors are joining forces to combat organized retail theft.

Around the Bay Area, video after video has highlighted a massive problem in recent days.

"This is not just a theft problem, this is organized," said San Mateo County District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe.

RELATED: Contra Costa Co. DA files felony charges for 3 suspects in Walnut Creek Nordstrom store robbery

Now, Bay Area Prosecutors are creating an alliance between Contra Costa, Alameda, San Francisco, Marin, San Joaquin, Santa Clara and San Mateo counties, where District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe says talking to one another will increase prosecutors' ability to be tough on crime.

"If somebody has committed the crimes in San Francisco, San Mateo and Santa Clara all in a single spree, the law will allow us to put that all together in one complaint, in one county, which we'll get a heavier punishment that way," said Wagstaffe.

Until now, Wagstaffe says information sharing across counties has largely occurred between law enforcement agencies.

Yesterday, San Francisco District Attorney Chesa Boudin announced felony charges against 9 people in connection with recent burglaries including at Union Square's Louis Vuitton.

VIDEO: SF District Attorney Chesa Boudin files felony charges for 9 suspects in Union Square robbery
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SF District Attorney Chesa Boudin announced felony charges against the nine people arrested for the organized retail thefts in Union Square.



"This is not a problem limited to San Francisco, we are seeing similar crimes occur across the Bay Area and around the country," said Boudin.

Wagstaffe tells ABC7 News his office has previously prosecuted for theft at least 2 of the 9 people arrested; 53-year-old Francill White and 28-year-old Kimberly Cherry, who a family member told ABC7 News are a mother and daughter, both facing charges connected to the Louis Vuitton theft.

Wagstaffe says a judge ordered an arrest warrant for Cherry after she failed to appear in court in San Mateo County in July.

RELATED: San Jose mayor, DA discuss arrests in recent retail thefts

On the organized nature of these crimes, Santa Clara County District Attorney Jeff Rosen says there is certainly coordination.

"What we've seen is that the goods are stolen in one place and sold in another place. And so that's a network that we're in the process of uncovering and taking down," said Rosen.

While prosecutors see an opportunity, at least one public defender sees a potential problem.

Alameda County Public Defender Brendon Woods tells ABC7 News, "I am concerned about the 'one size fits all' approach. The pandemic has wreaked havoc on our communities. Many people are committing crimes out of economic desperation and despair. Simply incarcerating everyone involved in these types of theft crimes will not solve the root cause of the problem. This type of response has only led to the mass caging, or worse, of Black and brown people. It has never resulted in justice."

Bay Area crimes, sparking conversations about our judicial system.

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