California's top attorney announces major blow to organized retail theft ring with ties to Bay Area

Tara Campbell Image
Thursday, January 18, 2024
CA attorney general announces major blow to retail theft ring
California Attorney General Rob Bonta announced a major blow to an organized retail theft ring that is believed to have ties to the Bay Area.

SACRAMENTO (KGO) -- California's top attorney announced a major blow to an organized retail theft ring Wednesday, believed to be responsible for a flood of robberies throughout the Bay Area.

"Let's be really clear that we are not talking about one-off shoplifting incidents," said California Attorney General Rob Bonta, announcing charges against three suspects.

"These are primary actors among the primary actors in the planning and preparing of the conduction involved, so we believe these are very important charges we're bringing," Bonta said.

The trio of suspects is being charged with nearly 50 felony and 10 misdemeanor counts, including organized retail theft, second-degree burglary, grand theft and vandalism.

MORE: CA Attorney General lays charges in statewide retail theft ring that hit several Bay Area counties

"Often, in the middle of night, the suspects generally donned dark clothes, masks and gloves to break through security doors and security gates," Bonta said. "Twice ATM machines, one from an open Chevron Station and one from a closed smoke shop."

Twenty-five businesses were hit between early September and November last year, targeting multiple jurisdictions, including Walnut Creek and Vallejo. The thefts resulted in more than $650,000 in losses to the stores, including a Louis Vuitton store, where suspects drove a stolen Range Rover into the store, grabbing nearly $250,000 in merchandise.

"In that case, there were easily a dozen suspects, potentially up to 15, and we know this, because we responded within a minute of the alarm activation at Louis. Our officers were on scene as the suspects were fleeing," said Walnut Creek Police Chief James Knox, crediting technology like Automated License Plate Recognition -- known as ALPR -- in helping track down the suspects.

MORE: Walnut Creek police arrest 8 connected to Bay Area Lululemon theft ring

"Using technology is very beneficial in investigations. ALPR is some of that technology we've talked about, and I'm fully supportive of it," Knox said.

And with communities across the Bay Area looking to implement these types of technologies, the attorney general is weighing in.

"I am generally supportive of technology as a tool to assist law enforcement when balanced appropriately with privacy," Bonta said.

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