In response to a spate of recent incidents of organised smash-and-grab retail theft, San Francisco will limit car access in Union Square’s downtown shopping district, as store raids spread to Los Angeles.
On Friday night, the Louis Vuitton store in San Francisco’s Union Square was at the centre of the mass theft of goods from luxury brands.
During a joint press conference with San Francisco Police Chief Bill Scott, Mayor London Breed said changes would be made to traffic flow, but did not give details.
“We’re going to be making some changes to Union Square and how cars are able to access,” Ms Breed said. “There will be limited access in terms of when you come to this area.”
Chief Scott added that there will be an increased police presence in Union Square “for the foreseeable future”.
District Attorney Cesa Boudin, who some blame for the incidents following a change in how retail theft is handled, will be filing felony charges against eight people later on Tuesday relating to Friday’s raid.
“Trust and safety are our core values in this city. [Friday night’s] organised crime in Union Square, Bayview District, and beyond must never happen again,” he tweeted.
“These crimes are happening around the Bay and across the country. I stand in partnership with our local, regional, state, and federal partners as we work together to do whatever it takes to keep you safe.”
California Governor Gavin Newsom said on Monday that there is no empathy or sympathy for the organised crimes being carried out.
“They’re not just stealing people’s products and impacting their livelihoods, they’re stealing a sense of place and confidence,” he said.
There is a nationwide spate of smash and grab raids of high-end retail stores — an astonishing 80 people snatched $200,000 worth of merchandise from a Nordstrom department store in Walnut Creek, California on Saturday night, just 24 hours after the San Francisco incident.
Adding to the list of incidents, on Monday night approximately 20 people raided the Nordstrom store in The Grove shopping precinct in Los Angeles.
Police said more than a dozen suspects fled in four vehicles, KRON reports. One of the cars was stopped by police in South Los Angeles, where authorities said three suspects were taken into custody.
Clothing items, a cash register, ski masks, and gloves were found inside the vehicle.
On Sunday, thieves unsuccessfully tried to break into Louis Vuitton and Saks Fifth Avenue in Beverly Hills.
Similar incidents have occurred in Chicago and New York. It is unclear to what extent they are related, or if they are copycat crimes.
In most cases, the thieves flee in cars and several have been headed off by police responding to callouts. These have led not just to arrests, but also to leads in investigations to track down other perpetrators.
Given the use of vehicles, similar to San Francisco, other shopping districts are erecting or considering barriers and only permitting cars at certain times.
Register for free to continue reading
Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism
By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists
Already have an account? sign in