The amount of property taken and total value are currently unknown, the Memphis Police Department said. Other items stolen from the Southland Mall location included puffer jackets, women’s Champion clothing and NBA jerseys.
The burglary followed a similar incident at another Hibbett Sports store in the area less than two weeks earlier. The four suspects stole clothing items worth $12,000, according to WREG Memphis. Earlier in the month, a single Memphis City Gear store was broken into twice within three days. The thieves carted away more than $30,000 worth of Nike shoes and clothing across the two early-morning incidents, local channel Fox13 reported. In between those two break-ins, thieves hit another Memphis store, Bad Timing, stealing “well over $70,000 in merchandise,” according to the retailer, which is attempting to recoup the loss—“a hit that we will struggle to come back from”—on GoFundMe.
Also this month, police arrested a DHL warehouse employee for stealing $60,000 of Nike products from the Memphis facility where she worked. Chamon Davis was arrested after printing duplicated tracking numbers for items she did not purchase, and then sending those items to different addresses, WREG Memphis reported. Nike’s investigators managed to recover $10,000 of merchandise.
The string of Memphis thefts follows a series of brazen smash-and-grab robberies in California. In one November weekend, mobs of thieves stormed Nordstrom, Louis Vuitton and Lululemon stores across the Bay Area, running off with tens of thousands of dollars’ worth of merchandise.
“[Criminals] know there is a lucrative market for stolen, high-end goods on the internet—often through legitimate retail sites,” Fahim Abid, security director for the security guard company Access Patrol Services, said, adding, “Until there are real consequences for criminal behavior and the supply chain for stolen goods is cut, these crimes will continue.”
Members of the Retail Industry Leadership Association (RILA)—including chief executives from Nordstrom, Neiman Marcus, Foot Locker, VF. Corp, Levi’s, Target and Dick’s Sporting Goods—have responded by urging House and Senate leaders to quickly pass the Integrity, Notification and Fairness in Online Retail Marketplaces (INFORM) Consumers Act. The legislation would enhance consumer protection laws to keep shoppers from purchasing stolen goods online.
“As millions of Americans have undoubtedly seen on the news in recent weeks and months, retail establishments of all kinds have seen a significant uptick in organized crime in communities across the nation,” RILA wrote. “This trend has made retail businesses a target for increasing theft, hurt legitimate businesses who are forced to compete against unscrupulous sellers, and has greatly increased consumer exposure to unsafe and dangerous counterfeit products.”
Crime could deter would-be shoppers from visiting stores during the busiest season of the year.
This past week also saw the fatal shooting of a teenage girl in a North Hollywood, Calif., Burlington store by an officer with the Los Angeles Police Department. A store employee had reportedly called 911 in response to a “hostile” individual who was attacking customers. Store and body-camera footage uploaded to YouTube by the Los Angeles Times shows at least 11 officers responding with weapons drawn. When a police officer shot and killed the assailant, one of the bullets apparently went through a wall and hit the 14-year-old girl who was in the dressing room on the other side. According to USA Today, the lone officer who fired his weapon was told to “slow down” more than a dozen times by other officers. The LAPD has placed him on administrative leave.