Police in California are investigating a Macy’s smash-and-grab robbery Saturday morning after three suspects stole high-end watches before fleeing the scene.
The Walnut Creek Police Department (WCPD) outside San Francisco said three Black male adult suspects wearing hooded sweatshirts and masks entered the store located in the town’s Broadway Plaza shopping center at approximately 10:48 a.m., when they began smashing jewelry display cases with hammers.
The suspects stole the valuables and fled the scene in a white four-door Honda sedan. The WCPD is still searching for the three men. No employees or shoppers were injured during the robbery.
WCPD PIO lieutenant Holley Connors said on Sunday that Macy’s was still inventorying the loss and estimated cost to repair the damages.
Macy’s did immediately responded to a request for comment.
The smash-and-grab occurred in the same mall where dozens of looters robbed a Nordstrom in late November last year. Between 50 and 80 looters entered the store just before 9 p.m. during last year’s incident when they grabbed merchandise and fled, police said. Bystander video showed thieves fleeing the scene and jumping into waiting cars with bags full of stolen merchandise just minutes after entering the store. The WCPD apprehended three suspects, including one carrying a firearm.
That Nordstrom had been a target of robberies earlier in 2021, forcing the store to team up with the WCPD to station a uniformed officer at the location.
Contra Costa County district attorney Diane Becton has instructed her own prosecutors to consider looters’ “needs” in theft cases.
Manhattan D.A., Small Business Alliance target repeat offenders
As Becton and her team are seeking answers, Manhattan district attorney Alvin Bragg hopes his new plan alongside the Manhattan Small Business Alliance will slow down similar robberies and crimes throughout the New York City borough.
The plan specifically targets repeat offenders, as 18 percent of people arrested for shoplifting comprised nearly half of all shoplifting arrests in Manhattan between 2015 and 2021.
The first phase of the initiative focuses on top retail theft repeat offenders in Manhattan, all of whom are charged with at least one felony, and have either failed to appear at a scheduled court date or have multiple open pending cases.
“We cannot accept a system where individuals who shoplift again and again cycle in and out of jail, just to shoplift again. Our society can’t function that way—it doesn’t help our shop owners, and it doesn’t help those individuals,” D.A. Bragg said in a statement. “At the Manhattan D.A.’s Office, we follow the data, and the data shows a small number of individuals are driving the retail theft crisis facing our borough.”
Bragg called for targeted interventions, tailored to individuals’ needs and challenges, combined with accountability to ensure engagement and compliance with programming that can end the cycle. He said this includes potential incarceration for those who repeatedly engage in commercial theft.
Senior leadership from the Manhattan D.A.’s office and the New York Police Department (NYPD) will hold monthly meetings to analyze data and case outcomes for individuals with high rates of recidivism. The D.A.’s crimes strategies unit is coordinating with the NYPD to ensure communication at the precinct level, allowing commanding officers to send the office information in real time.
The office is expanding resources dedicated to investigating retail theft and “fencing operations,”—when criminals resell stolen merchandise—and says it will continue to convene retail security professionals, as well as small retailers, community members and the NYPD to build pattern cases and ultimately prosecute those most culpable for financing and facilitating fencing operations.
Small Business Alliance co-chair Ken Giddon, who is also president of Rothmans, a men’s apparel retailer with multiple stores in New York City, said he was “truly appreciative” of Bragg and his team’s work on this issue.
“The task force was very effective in bringing the problem of shoplifting and violence against retail workers into focus. Too many people in public service believe it is a victimless crime that is ‘covered by insurance,’ but in reality, it is a dangerous and debilitating situation, that tears at the very fabric of NYC,” Giddon said in a statement. “The D.A. has taken some crucial first steps here, and we look forward to working together to continue to make improvements. Thank you D.A. Bragg for bringing together so many different groups to push forward.”
D.A. Bragg and the alliance will continue to advocate for the passage of S.8836, a pending New York State senate bill sponsored by Sen. Brad Hoylman, which would create penalties for online marketplaces and third-party sellers that foster the sale of stolen goods.
Creating these new penalties will push companies where stolen goods often end up, like Amazon or eBay, to take further steps to safeguard their platforms and allow law enforcement to target the ringleaders of these schemes. It will also create disincentivize sellers to put stolen goods up for sale online.
“Retail theft crimes have negative and costly impacts on business owners and consumers alike,” Hoylman said. “I commend D.A. Bragg for bringing people together to develop strategies to hold accountable those who participate in these crimes, including focusing on repeat offenders, dismantling fencing operations, and getting services for those in need. This should make a positive difference for all of us.”
Bragg also advocates for the passage of Senate/Assembly bill S8391/A10096, sponsored by New York State Sen. Kevin Thomas and Assemblymember Jeffrey Dinowitz, both Democrats, which aims to prevent crime by creating transparency and verification requirements on certain high-volume third-party sellers in the online marketplace. These requirements, which include providing names, contact information and business tax identification numbers, are designed to help ensure that consumers are purchasing from legitimate companies and not entities created to trick online shoppers.
Washington A.G. launches retail crime task force
Back on the West Coast, Washington state attorney general Bob Ferguson revealed Thursday that his office is creating a statewide Organized Retail Crime Theft Task Force in response to the elevated theft rates.
The task force will focus on sophisticated, organized crime rings like the 13-member operation rounded up in Seattle in April, and will be the tenth such state task force in the U.S. The team’s purpose is to improve coordination and collaboration among law enforcement agencies to address multi-jurisdictional crimes that can endanger retail employees and cause significant economic harm to the state.
Ferguson cited an analysis from the Retail Industry Leaders Association (RILA), which estimates that Washington retailers lost $2.7 billion to organized retail crime in 2021. The office also cited federal crime statistics indicating that the value of items stolen from Washington retailers increased by 151 percent from 2019 to 2020.
The first task force meeting will be held on July 7. The attorney general has committed to convening quarterly meetings for at least one year.
“Coordination is key to combatting this growing, and sometimes dangerous problem,” Ferguson said. “These organized crimes cross jurisdictions and cause significant economic harm. I’m committed to working together with law enforcement and retail partners to put help combat this significant and growing problem.”
The task force will bring together prosecutors and retailers from across the state with local, state and federal law enforcement representatives, including the FBI and U.S. federa attorneys Nick Brown and Vanessa Waldref. The task force will also include the Port of Seattle, small business representatives and workers’ representatives.