SANTA CLARA (CBS SF) — Arrest warrants have been issued for 17 members of an alleged snatch-and-grab robbery gang who targeted Apple stores throughout Northern California, authorities announced Thursday.
Attorney General Xavier Becerra said the individuals were responsible for Apple retail stores robberies in 19 counties that resulted in the loss of over $1 million. The areas targeted stretched from as far south as San Diego to as far north as Butte County.
The defendants were charged with entering the stores in large groups wearing hoodies and snatching products on display in a matter of seconds.
“Organized retail thefts cost California business owners millions and expose them to copycat criminals,” said Becerra. “Ultimately, consumers pay the cost of this merchandise hijacking. We will continue our work with local law enforcement authorities to extinguish this mob mentality and prosecute these criminals to hold them accountable.”
The state Department of Justice believes it has dismantled an organized crime ring that targets Apple stores up and down the state. They said some of the suspects appeared in an Oakland court Thursday afternoon.
Seven adults were arrested on Tuesday and booked in the Alameda County Jail. Another is currently in custody in Sonoma County. Arrest warrants have been issued for nine other suspects. The investigation is ongoing.
“We’re going to see a pretty substantial, hopefully, reduction in these crimes across the state,” said Oakland Police Lt. Clay Burch.
Police across the Bay Area have been investigating the brazen daylight robberies targeting Apple stores and other cell phone shops that have been caught on camera.
The arrests of the suspects in Oakland happened on Tuesday at around the same time a group of people ran into an Emeryville Apple store and took off with a number of devices.
Oakland investigators would not say if it’s the same group or unrelated.
“You have an interrupted factor. So this will definitely be an interruption, for at least a while,” said Oakland Police Chief Anne Kirkpatrick.
Former Oakland Police Chief Howard Jordan said if Apple doesn’t change its security policy, the thefts will likely continue.
“I wouldn’t be surprised if they start up again,” said Jordan.
One security officer told KPIX 5 they’re instructed by Apple not to stop the thieves. A photo taken at a recent Bay Area theft shows a guard just standing nearby as the burglary takes place.
Several thieves stole devices from the Apple store in the Santa Rosa Plaza on Sunday afternoon, Santa Rosa police said.
The thefts happened around 1:30 p.m., police said. The same store also was robbed on Aug. 29. Thieves have also targeted Apple stores in Roseville, Corte Madera and Walnut Creek.
The Department of Justice still has yet to release the names of any of the suspects