WALNUT CREEK, Calif. (KGO) -- Walnut Creek police have managed to put a big dent in a retail theft ring involving Lululemon stores. They've made arrests and shared their strategy for preventing retail crime going into the holiday season.
The arrests of eight theft suspects at a Lululemon store in Walnut Creek uncovered a chain of events that started earlier in the month. Thieves targeted two Lululemon stores in Napa and Santa Rosa, taking $10,000 in merchandise from each.
"When you get a theft at corporately-owned stores, usually what happens is their network of loss prevention agents will communicate out to include photographs and general descriptions," Walnut Creek Police Captain Ryan Hibbs said.
That's what Broadway Plaza shopping center officers and store employees had to work with. Last Thursday, the North Bay suspects showed up at the store in Walnut Creek.
Police say these retail theft suspects were bold, taking $3,000-$4,000 in stolen merchandise up to the counter hoping to return it for cash or gift cards.
"In this case, they were stalled, and our officers moved in and detained them and ultimately arrested them," Capt. Hibbs said.
Two were arrested in the store and another two were arrested in a waiting car with an additional $13,000 in stolen merchandise.
Then just two days later, four more suspects stormed the same Lululemon store in Walnut Creek.
"They go in and grab as much as they can and then the leave. And the officers that responded - responded quickly and were ultimately able to detain these individuals and arrest them," Capt. Hibbs said.
The CEO of the Walnut Creek Chamber of Commerce Bob Linscheid says, "The police department is doing a great job of saying yes, a crime occurred, but an arrest was made so the communication out to the world is: if you come to Walnut Creek to commit a crime, you're going to get arrested."
It was nearly two years ago that a gang of thieves took over the Nordstrom store in Walnut Creek. The street through Broadway Plaza was blocked to traffic after that. As it reopened this fall, suspects crashed a car into a new Louis Vuitton store and stole merchandise, so the street is now re-barricaded.
"That will be closed throughout the holiday season and in addition to that, we are upstaffing considerably for the holiday season to include a lot more police officers - officers will be out in cars, officers will be on foot, they'll be out on bicycle patrol," Capt. Hibbs said.
Police say the district attorney is adamant on pressing charges in cases of organized retail thefts.
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