San Francisco District Attorney Chesa Boudin has announced he plans to bring felony charges against eight people involved in the shoplifting of a Luis Vuitton store
San Francisco’s notoriously woke District Attorney Chesa Boudin says his office has filed criminal charges against nine people involved in Friday’s brazen organized theft of a Louis Vuitton store – with more arrests to come.
The progressive top prosecutor has come under enormous pressure in recent days following a spate of viral videos which show organized groups of thieves ransacking and looting designer stores in the San Francisco Bay Area.
Boudin told reporters during a news conference in San Francisco on Tuesday that the suspects will be charged with crimes including looting, grand theft, burglary, possession of stolen property, firearm possession, commercial burglary.
Two of those arrested were found to be in possession of firearms, according to the district attorney.
The arraignments for the suspects are scheduled for Wednesday afternoon.
Boudin said that his office will ask the court to keep the suspects remanded to jail.
‘Ultimately in every single case including this, it is the decision of the judges and the Superior Court of San Francisco whether somebody stays in custody pending trial or whether they are released,’ Boudin told KPIX-TV, adding, ‘similarly, it is the decision of the judges of the Superior Court of San Francisco to decide what sentence should be imposed including whether charges in many instances filed as felonies as this year or subsequently reduced.
‘My office has some discretion in that matter and judges have discretion as well.’
‘We anticipate more arrests will be forthcoming,’ Boudin told reporters on Tuesday.
‘This is not something that’s limited to one neighborhood or one designer store. This is something that affects all of us as San Franciscans.’
The news conference was originally scheduled to take place outdoors, but protesters carrying signs denouncing Boudin were chanting nearby, forcing staffers to move the press briefing indoors.
SAN FRANCISCO: A suspect was seen running away with an armful of merchandise after stealing from a Luis Vuitton store in San Francisco’s Union Square on Friday night
Police responded to the Louis Vuitton store shortly after 8pm Friday where they ‘observed several suspects involved in criminal acts.’
Witnesses recorded video of more than 30 masked thieves running through the streets with their hands full of clothing items and bags.
Law enforcement officers are seen chasing a thief to a parked getaway car then bashing in the windows with batons, dragging the culprit out of the car and restraining them on the sidewalk.
Footage also showed the decimated storefront with shattered glass all over the sidewalk and totally empty shelves.
Police confirmed they arrested multiple suspects and that the Louis Vuitton store may have not been the only one targeted.
They were able to recover thousands of dollars’ worth of merchandise, the police chief said in a news conference the next day.
It was the first incident in a weekend-long spree of organized criminals targeting luxury retail stores across the Bay Area, with another group of criminals raiding a Nordstrom store in Los Angeles Monday night, as others targeted a CVS. Critics have blamed the rise in crime to Boudin’s failure to persecute thieves, but in an interview on Monday he turned the criticism on police who have not yet caught all of the criminals.
Sunday marked the third consecutive day the San Francisco Bay Area was hit with looting. This map shows the recent spate of ransackings that have plagued the Bay Area
Following Friday’s Union Square theft, Boudin issued a series of tweets backing the Louis Vuitton arrests, and in an interview with CNN’s Chris Cuomo Monday, he fought back against claims that he is being soft on the crime plaguing the area.
‘Let me be clear, I am doing everything in my power to keep San Francisco safe and to make sure that people who come to our city to commit crimes are held accountable,’ the progressive district attorney said.
But, he said: ‘This is not a one-person job, it’s not a problem that’s limited to San Francisco.
‘The police have the job of arresting and investigating these crimes, and when they do that and when they bring me and my office arrests, we file charges and we prosecute.
‘And then it’s up to the judges to impose the appropriate sentences,’ Boudin told Cuomo. ‘Everyone has a job to do.’
While he praised the work the police have done, Boudin also remained critical of the force, calling for ‘higher quality investigations.’
‘Take the incident in Union Square a couple days ago.
‘We know that more than 30 individuals were involved – and the reality is only eight of them have been arrested.’
San Francisco police have said they are continuing to pursue those responsible for the brazen shoplifting, ABC 7 reports, and Tony Montoya, president of the San Francisco Police Officers Association on Tuesday lambasted the district attorney’s remarks.
He accused Boudin of ‘trying to play district attorney’ while ‘residents keep getting abused, small businesses keep getting hammered and our city has become an unsafe national joke,’ the San Francisco Chronicle reports.
In an interview with CNN’s Chris Cuomo on Monday, he fought back against claims that he is being soft on the crime plaguing the area.
San Francisco DA Chesa Boudin says he¿s doing everything in his power to keep the city safe amid a surge in organized retail theft.
¿If people in my city don¿t feel safe, if they can¿t go about their business and live their lives in safety¿we have work to do.¿ pic.twitter.com/kE76KdeCDY
— Cuomo Prime Time (@CuomoPrimeTime) November 23, 2021
Boudin also used his platform on Monday to discredit reports that he is persecuting thieves at lower rates than his predecessor, saying: ‘It’s only true if you cherry pick statistics from 2020 during the pandemic.’
He noted that he created a Retail Theft Task Force ‘to focus on more effective and more efficient ways to intervene in disrupting organized retail theft,’ and said: ‘The fact is if you look at my charging rates in 2021 after the pandemic settled down, we’re charging rates at a higher number than other district attorneys around the Bay Area and at higher rates than my predecessor in 2018 and 2019.’
But city data shows Boudin has only been charging people of theft in 46 percent of all cases since taking office. In comparison, his predecessor George Gascon made such charges in 62 percent of all cases in 2018 and 2019.
He has an even lower rate in petty crime and has only made charges in 35 percent of all cases, compared to Gascon’s 58 percent.
Boudin has also convicted far fewer people of both crimes than Gascon, only convicting thieves in 79 percent of thefts and 62 percent of petty thefts. Gascon has an 82 percent conviction rate for theft and a 77 percent conviction rate for petty theft.
Overall, Boudin has charged people with crimes in 48 percent of all reported cases, while Gascon has a charging rate of 54 percent.
Boudin is now facing a 2022 recall election amid fury among locals of famously liberal San Francisco at soaring crime many blame on his soft policies.
California’s Proposition 47 – lighter sentences for thieves
Proposition 47 was passed by California voters on November 5, 2014.
It made some ‘non-violent’ property crimes, where the value of the stolen goods does not exceed $950, into misdemeanors.
It also made some ‘simple’ drug possession offenses into misdemeanors, and allows past convictions for these charges to be reduced to a misdemeanor by a court.
Under California law, though, if two or more person’s conspire to ‘cheat and defraud any person or any property, by any means which are in themselves criminal’ they can face no more than one year in county prison, a fine of $10,000 or a combination of the two.
He issued a series of tweets backing the Louis Vuitton arrests, but critics of the DA say his words are too little, too late, as authorities report a wave of thefts in the San Francisco Bay Area in recent months, with many citing a law in the city that downgrades charges of property theft less than $950 from a felony to a misdemeanor.
As of October 31, San Francisco police have received reports of 810 burglaries or attempted burglaries this year in the jurisdiction of the Mission District Police station, marking a 13 percent increase from the same time last year.
Businesses throughout the city have reduced their hours or closed entirely because of the uptick in property theft, with Walgreens closing 17 of its 70 San Francisco stores due to the constant shoplifting by thieves who waltz past security guards and sell the items outside the drugstore chain’s doors.
And just recently, a Safeway grocery store said it was scaling back its round-the-clock service to just 6am to 9pm, citing rampant shoplifting as the reason. San Francisco Mayor London Breed has also been condemned over her handling of soaring crime in the city.
‘The mayor and her entire team should resign,’ John Chachas, whose family owns Gump’s on Post Street in Union Square told the San Francisco Chronicle as his store reeled from the aftermath of the nearby shoplifting on Friday night.
‘You can’t really run a retail enterprise if you have to board up the windows five weeks before the critical Christmas selling season,’ he said, noting that he is thinking of relocating his store.
‘The fact that the city can’t maintain sufficient order that businesses can operate [in] without fear of being damaged,’ Chachas said leaves him to believe that city officials have ‘no understanding of how an orderly city is necessary for commerce to function.
‘We can’t operate a business,’ he said. ‘So we will evaluate our options to be elsewhere unless this nonsense ends.
Walgreens has had to close 17 of its 70 San Francisco stores due to constant shoplifting with thieves stealing items in front of security guards and sell them outside the drugstore chain’s doors
As of October 31, San Francisco police have received reports of 810 burglaries or attempted burglaries this year in the jurisdiction of the Mission District Police station, marking a 13 percent increase from the same time last year
The Bay Area was hit with three straight days of brazen shoplifting on Sunday, when a gang of thieves were filmed smashing glass cases at a jewelry store and emptying them as staff screamed in terror.
It happened at a Sam’s Jewelers store at the Southland Mall in Hayward around 5:30pm PST Sunday, and was caught on camera.
Robbers – said to have been part of a gang of around 40 to 50 teens who entered the mall – wielded hammers to smash display cases at Sam’s, before making off with goods. Dramatic footage shot from a nearby store showed shop workers screaming with fear as the disturbing scene unfolded.
Also on Sunday, another gang of looters snatched garments from upmarket yoga clothing brand Lululemon’s San Jose store, KPIX reported.
And on Saturday, video posted to Twitter a swarm of robbers was caught on security camera stealing prescriptions from Wellspring Pharmacy in Oakland at around 7.30pm.
Pharmacy employees sped up the footage to show dozens of people running through the store to grab boxes of drugs off the shelves before quickly moving out. It is unclear what drugs were stolen, but staff say customers’ whose meds were stolen will be able to collect replacement meds that have been ordered in.
Store employees told KGO-TV reporter Dion Lim they were ‘overwhelmed and devastated’ by the brazen theft, as it is a small drug store and does not have the same resources as chains like CVS or Walgreens.
Video of the Sam’s incident, meanwhile, shows the men, all of whom were wearing hoodies, smashing the cases and running off with handfuls of jewelry, with one man even running back to grab an item he dropped before fleeing.
People inside the store screamed and ran away from the horrifying scene, which has become common in the Bay Area since a California state law downgraded the theft of property less than $950 in value from a felony charge to a misdemeanor in 2014.
Store staff and security now tend not to pursue or stop thieves who have taken anything worth less than $1,000.
HAYWARD: A group of brazen thieves were seen using hammers and other tools to break the glass cases at a jewelry store in the Southland Mall on Sunday
HAYWARD: The group of about 40 to 50 teenage shoplifters made off with an unknown amount of jewelry and other items
HAYWARD: One brazen shoplifter was seen even going back to grab some of the stolen property he dropped as he ran out
OAKLAND: Video posted to Twitter shows a swarm of robbers entering Wellspring Pharmacy in Oakland on Saturday and grabbing boxes of prescription drugs off the shelves
OAKLAND: Store employees told KGO-TV reporter Dion Lim they were ‘overwhelmed and devastated’ by the brazen theft, as it is a small drug store and does not have the same resources as chains like CVS or Walgreens
Sources say the Macy’s at the Southland Mall was also attacked on Sunday, with two women who work near Sam’s Jewelers telling KPIX that the teens also ran into another store and left with clothes and shoes.
Police could not say how much jewelry was taken from the store or the volume of merchandise other stores in the mall lost.
And just about an hour later, in San Jose, a group of suspects entered a Lululemon store in the outdoor mall at Santana Row and took an unknown amount of merchandise before they fled the scene. No other information about the incident has been reported.
These thefts occurred as police in nearby Walnut Creek, about 25 miles from San Francisco, warned that there could be a repeat of the stealing spree that community saw the night before.
‘The Walnut Creek PD is actively monitoring intelligence that indicates the group of thieves who stole from the Broadway Plaza Nordstrom last night are considering similar activity later today,’ the Walnut Creek Police Department tweeted Sunday night.
‘This has not been confirmed, but out of an abundance of caution, we’re alerting businesses and residents to be prepared … some stores may consider closing early or taking other precautions.
‘There is no specific time or target known right now,’ the police department noted.
Eighty looters ransacked a Nordstrom store in the area on Saturday night, injuring at least three employees in a raid that lasted less than a minute.
The large group, wearing ski masks and carrying crowbars, rushed the Walnut Creek store, stole an undetermined amount of merchandise and fled in their vehicles.
During the theft, two Nordstrom workers were punched and kicked, while another was sprayed with pepper spray. All three individuals were treated for their injuries on scene.
Walnut Creek police have arrested three people in connection to the incident and they are facing various charges including robbery, conspiracy, burglary, possession of stolen property and a weapons charge.
Officials have declared the robbery was ‘organized retail theft.’
WALNUT CREEK: On Saturday, a group of about eighty looters ransacked a Nordstrom store
WALNUT CREEK: The incident took less than a minute before the suspects got back in their car and fled the scene
Dozens of officers responded to the scene around 9pm after Walnut Creek police received reports that approximately 80 people had run into the Nordstrom store and began looting and smashing shelves.
NBC Bay Area reporter Jodi Hernandez, who witnessed the raid, shared several videos of the incident on Twitter.
She said approximately 25 cars were blocking the street as the gang of thieves stormed the store, some brandishing weapons.
Video shows the looters running down the street with bags and boxes holding presumed stolen goods before entering their getaway vehicles.
Although most of the raiders managed to flee, police managed to arrest at least two of the suspected looters. Video even shows an officer pointing their gun at one of the drivers.
Walnut Creek Lt. Ryan Hibbs told said his officers stopped one vehicle, recovered stolen property and arrested the man and woman occupying the automobile.
The man was charged with robbery, possession of stolen property, conspiracy to commit burglary and possession of burglary tools.
Police also arrested a man who fled on foot. He was charged with robbery, possession of stolen property, conspiracy to commit burglary and possession of burglary tools.
They have since identified the suspects as Dana Dawson, 30, of San Francisco, who also faced gun charges; Joshua Underwood, 32, of San Francisco; and Rodney Robinson, 18, of Oakland.
WALNUT CREEK: Police were able to arrest three people in the Nordstrom theft on Saturday night
Walnut Creek Lt. Ryan Hibbs told said his officers stopped one vehicle, recovered stolen property and arrested the man and woman occupying the automobile
The looting epidemic seemed to have spread to Los Angeles on Monday night, with at least 20 people raiding a Nordstrom store in a ‘smash and grab’ incident Monday night, as others targeted a CVS.
Police said they first received reports about a break-in at Nordstrom at The Grove retail complex in the City of Angels at around 10.40pm.
They told CBS Los Angeles that the suspects apparently used a sledgehammer to smash the storefront windows before they fled in at least four vehicles. The store was closed to customers at the time.
The police pursued one of the fleeing vehicles onto the 110 Freeway, then onto Hoover Street in South Los Angeles at around 11.06pm before the occupants tried to run.
Police chased the suspects in the area, ABC7 reports, and three were arrested. Footage obtained by the affiliate showed officers pulling clothes with the tags still on them and cash register boxes from the car.
The value of the thieves’ goods remains unclear as of Tuesday morning. A barricade was set up around The Grove, where glass could still be seen on the ground.
And just about an hour before the Nordstrom was hit, CBS Los Angeles reports, a CVS in the city was burglarized by six people who stole about $8,500 in cash. Detectives are now working to determine whether any of the suspects in that incident also were involved in the Nordstrom smash and grab.
On Saturday, a Louis Vuitton store and the Saks Fifth Avenue on Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills also were targeted for a smash and grab, but police said the would-be thieves appeared to use a sledgehammer on the store windows, which are reinforced glass panes. They could not get in and now remain at large, with Beverly Hills city officials vowing to hire two private security companies to boost patrols at the stores.
‘This used to be the safest city in the West, but it’s not anymore,’ one shopper Salvano Fino, told CBS Los Angeles. ‘Anybody can come and just take, and it’s just getting very easy for them.’
LOS ANGELES: Los Angeles police say at least 20 people used sledgehammers to break the glass at a Nordstrom on Monday night and ransack its shelves before fleeing
LOS ANGELES: Police were seen examining the scene of the break-in Monday night
LOS ANGELES: Police found bags of clothes with tags still on it when they searched a getaway car they pursued
Under California’s Proposition 47 some ‘non-violent’ property crimes, where the value of the stolen goods does not exceed $950, into misdemeanors.
The suspects involved in these robberies, however, seemed to have conspired to commit them, and under California law, ‘If two or more person’s conspire to cheat and defraud any person or any property, by any means which are in themselves criminal’ they can face no more than one year in county prison, a fine of $10,000 or a combination of the two.
On Monday California Gov. Gavin Newsom vowed to get tough with the organized gangs of thieves.
Newsom, the former mayor of San Francisco, said he had ‘no sympathy or empathy’ for those involved in the brazen thefts, which were caught on camera.
The video clips went viral on social media, causing embarrassment for local officials in the Bay Area who have struggled to get a grip on the problem.
The governor on Monday pledged to provide ‘exponential level of support’ in the next state budget to help cities combat retail theft rings.
‘We want people prosecuted and we want people to feel safe,’ Newsom said during an appearance at a Bay Area vaccine clinic, where he was promoting booster shots.
‘They must be held to account.’
Newsom said his office met with retailers over the weekend who asked for more police patrols.
‘You will see substantially more starting today, in and around areas that are highly trafficked and coming into the holiday season Black Friday in shopping malls,’ he told reporters.
California Governor Gavin Newsom vowed on Monday to get tough with organized gangs of thieves who have ransacked and looted luxury retail stores in the San Francisco Bay Area
But the widespread looting is not isolated to California – recently, officials outside of Chicago, Illinois have also reported an uptick in brazen thefts.
Last Wednesday, police say, at least 14 people forced their way into a Louis Vuitton Store in Oak Brook – about 20 miles outside of Chicago – and made off with at least $120,000 in merchandise.
Oak Brook officials told WLS they responded to a report from mall security at around 3.31pm of several people partaking in a ‘grab and run’ of merchandise.
They said the individuals rushed into the store at the Oak Brook Center Mall, took out garbage bags and began filling them with items before fleeing in three separate vehicles.
Surveillance footage from inside the store shows masked shoplifters pour into the store, grabbing handbags and other merchandise while shoppers ran away.
Police were later able to recover one of the vehicles, a Dodge Charger, that was reported stolen in October out of Chicago.
Investigators told WLS they have information on the three vehicles the thieves drove away in, with Police Chief James Kruger saying his crew is working with investigators in the northern Chicago suburb of Northbrook, where eight people took off with $66,000 worth of merchandise from another Louis Vuitton store.
In that case, in October, police said 13 drivers targeted a store at the Northbrook Court Mall.
OAK BROOK, ILLINOIS: Surveillance footage from inside a Louis Vuitton store showed masked shoplifters, top right, pour into the store and grab handfuls of merchandise as customers ran away
OAK BROOK, ILLINOIS: Police say the shoplifters took out garbage bags and began filling them with items before fleeing in three separate vehicles
Police in Oak Brook are now reportedly turning to Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul for help.
‘The attorney general is looking into this investigation as well as whether or not to tie it to a larger-scale investigation,’ Police Chief James Kruger told WLS.
Raoul had previously also set up a public-private partnership to combat the rise in organized retail crime.
The Organized Retail Crime Task Force comprises career investigators and attorneys from the Attorney General’s Criminal Enforcement Division, working in concert with the United States Secret Service, Department of Homeland Security, the Illinois State Police, the Barrington Police Department, the West Chicago Police Department, the Cook County Sheriff’s Office, the Illinois Association of Chiefs of Police and the Illinois Association of State’s Attorneys.
They will consult with the Illinois Retail Merchants Association, the Magnificent Mile Association, the Chicago Automobile Trade Association, the Internet Association, as well as national retailers like CVS, Home Deport, Lowes, Target, Walgreens and Walmart to combat organized thefts.
‘These brazen, violent crimes are committed by sophisticated criminal organizations that are involved in drug trafficking, human trafficking and other serious crimes,’ Raoul announced in September.
‘Even during the looting we saw last year, we came to understand that some of these criminal acts were not merely opportunistic, but organized in advance,’ he said.
‘The Organized Retail Crime Task Force will allow investigators and prosecutors in my office to better collaborate with our law enforcement partners and ensure cooperation between law enforcement, as well as retailers and online marketplaces, to protect communities, consumers and combat the rise in retail crime.’