A high-end sneaker store in Tampa, Fla., is offering a $20,000 cash reward to anyone who can help police arrest the four individuals who broke in and stole a trove of rare footwear.
According to the Tampa Police Department’s Twitter, the four individuals responsible unlawfully entered Vault 813 on June 17 through a hole they created in the rear wall of the business. Security footage shows them walking through what appears to be a back hallway at the International Plaza mall with at least eight garbage bags filled with shoes.
The police estimated the total merchandise stolen exceeded $60,000. A local Fox station, however, said the store placed that total above $200,000, as of Wednesday. Vault 813 said on Instagram that some of the stolen shoes, including Air Jordan’s ultra-rare collaboration with Dior and DJ Khaled’s Jordan 3 “Father of Asahd,” should be easy to spot given their rarity.
Four days after the Vault 813 break-in, seven individuals entered The RealReal’s downtown Palo Alto, Calif., location and reportedly made off with more than $50,000 in premium handbags. According to the Palo Alto Police Department (PAPD), five members of the coordinated group simply entered the open store and began “ripping” handbags from security cables. The store’s on-duty security officer attempted to block their exit, but was pushed out of the way, the PAPD said. When he followed them out, he reportedly encountered two additional suspects, one who told the other to “pull the gun,” and the other who told the security officer, “Don’t make me the pull the gun.” The security officer never saw a weapon.
The PAPD said it is exploring whether the incident is associated with two other recent cases that occurred at the Stanford Shopping Center in Palo Alto. On May 19, the police said, at least 10 individuals stole more than $150,000 in luxury handbags from an open Neiman Marcus store. On June 7, a group of 11 individuals ran into an open Louis Vuitton store and escaped with more than $100,000 in handbags, the PAPD said.
The National Retail Federation (NRF) has long advocated for action on organized retail crime (ORC). In a survey of 61 retailers—the NRF conducted its research between February and April 2020 and acknowledged the pandemic could have affected answers—it found ORC was responsible for an average loss of $719,548 per $1 billion in sales. Of ORC victims, 75 percent said they saw an increase in ORC activity in the past 12 months.
The NRF also noted that of its respondents, 58 percent said they had been a victim of cargo theft in the past 12 months and 57 percent said ORC “gangs” were exhibiting more aggression and violence than the previous year. Sixty-two percent said they believed a federal ORC law was necessary to effectively combat this type of criminal activity.
The thefts in Tampa and Palo Alto come as officials sound the alarm on rising murder rates and shootings. According to CNN—the Federal Bureau of Investigation only has nationwide data for 2019—major American cities experienced a 33 percent increase in homicides last year. Of the 66 largest police jurisdictions, the news network said 63 saw an increase in at least one category of violent crime last year.
However, the story of the overall crime rate is more complicated. According to the New York City Police Department (NYPD)—as up-to-date national data is unavailable, New York City offers a timely-if-anecdotal window into current crime trends—murders rose 44.8 percent year-over-year in 2020. Burglaries, up 41.7 percent, and grand larceny auto, up 66.7 percent, also jumped. Grand larceny and robberies, on the other hand, both fell, by 18.4 percent and 2.5 percent, respectively. Consequently, despite concerns over the rising crime rate, the NYPD actually said the city’s overall crime index hit a “historic low” last year.
The overall decrease in crime appears to be continuing into the current year. Through May, the NYPD’s data shows a 1.7 percent decline in index crime compared to last year. Year-to-date, grand larceny is down 5.4 percent and burglary is down 16 percent. Looking solely at May, however, grand larceny in the city is up 35.6 percent over last year, but that is only after a 43.4 percent drop in 2020, likely due to the pandemic. Compared to May 2019, the crime is down more than 20 percent. Burglaries, meanwhile, were down last month year-over-year, but up compared to 2019. Robberies climbed higher than both 2020 and 2019.
How exactly crime rates will develop remains to be seen. Given the disparate nature of much of the United States’ crime reporting, it is still difficult to fully analyze how exactly crime evolved nationwide amid the pandemic last year. Whether crimes such as those in Tampa and Palo Alto are signals of a larger trend or anecdotal incidents will likely take even longer to parse out.