Retailers ramp up security, cities reroute traffic to combat organized theft rings

“We will do what we need to do to put an end to this madness,” San Francisco Police Chief Bill Scott said after several high-end retailers were targeted in a wave of robberies.

Customers at Best Buy can expect to find more valuable products behind the shelves and more secure at some stores.

Private companies are patrolling Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills, California, in a popular shopping area in response to robberies at Louis Vuitton stores and Saks Fifth Avenue over the weekend.

Meanwhile, city officials in Union Square in San Francisco announced nearly a dozen stores in Louis Square on Friday night, including Louis Vuitton, Burberry and Bloomingdale’s, it said. traffic lanes near high -rise stores have been restructured to make it less easy for thieves to park, steal and so on. nail, hurry.

“We are doing everything we can to eliminate this incident,” San Francisco police officer William Scott told reporters.

Persistent concerns over the coordination of multiple thefts are shaking shoppers not only in cities such as San Francisco, Los Angeles and Chicago, where videos of such thefts are common, but also in affluent areas. not usually focused on tens of thousands of dollars worth. Cheers. goods.

Businesses, retailers and law enforcement are considering protections as shoppers begin to set up their stores on the busiest shopping days ahead, including Black Friday, and in the midst of a situation. economic costs and high prices and late delivery. A recent study by NPD Group found that online shopping has recovered to pre -epidemic levels and traditional stores are regaining their share of the retail market due to shoppers. want to go back to an experience.

But the risk of breaking into crowded stores could be a “dangerous rodeo,” said Read Hayes, a criminal at the University of Florida and director of the Loss Prevention Research Council.

Last Saturday, about 80 people robbed a store in Nordstrom in Walnut Creek, a San Francisco suburb, and drove away with a mob-style mob. Five employees were slightly injured and three were arrested recently, police said.

Walnut Creek officials have stepped up city guards and closed the road to cars to stop copying.

“If it means we’re going to pass you, if it means we have more police on the roads and more safety, whatever it is, all the options are available,” Walnut said. Creek Mayor Kevin Wilk on NBC. Fagaloa.

He also told NBC News that investigators are investigating how social media is being used to organize pirate sales.

In San Francisco, officers have promised to prosecute criminals. District Attorney Chesa Boudin said nine people were arrested Tuesday for theft and other incidents in Union Square, accusing them of burglary, grand theft, robbery. confiscation and theft of stolen property.

The three were also arrested early Tuesday morning when a mob tried to break into Nordstrom at The Grove Mall in Los Angeles hours after hours. A ski was found at the scene.

Nordstrom said the incidents in Los Angeles and Walnut Creek “put safety personnel in and out of our stores and work closely with stores and law enforcement to prevent and reduce risk.”

There will also be extensive response training for employees and the store, which has more than 100 full -service stores nationwide, said it will “increase our safety in stores and provide additional protections to ensure for the safety of all people “.

California Governor Gavin Newsom said this week he would enact “more” enforcement laws on retail bridges, and the California Road Patrol Organized Retail Crime Task Force said it would increase its presence along the main roads near the supermarkets.

In August, Democrat Newsom signed a law that will fund the labor sector until the end of 2025, focusing on “the leaders and masterminds of these criminal networks, not low -level theft. ” He said he plans to put more money in next year’s budget to combat organized theft across the state.

Newsom, who owns a hospitality company that includes wine shops and restaurants, said he knows first-hand how destructive criminal acts can be after his business was broken into three times this year.

“I have no sympathy, no empathy whatsoever for people smashing and grabbing, stealing people’s items, creating havoc and terror on our streets,” Newsom told reporters. “We want real accountability, we want people prosecuted and we want people to feel safe this holiday season.”

To ward off criminals, Hayes said it may take an array of tools at retailers’ disposal. Not just increasing security presence, he added, but using technology that can make a stolen item ineffective unless it’s activated when purchased, locking or tying up merchandise, positioning products in strategic locations that make them harder to run away with and also training employees to be more vigilant while also engaging in customer service.

“There’s long been a flash rob/flash mob effort,” Hayes said, “but this is the boldest I’ve ever seen it.”

Authorities and retail experts say these more aggressive actions may be the result, in part, of retailers also taking tougher stances on criminal activity like shoplifting. There’s also money to be made by these organized retail rings which can amass millions of dollars worth of products and sell them online or in other countries with the earnings laundered back to the United States.

The Coalition of Law Enforcement and Retail, a trade association, estimates organized retail crime leads to about $45 billion in losses for retailers each year, with more then $500 billion in illicit stolen and counterfeit goods getting sold on third-party platforms like Amazon.

“Back when they hit me, they could sell at flea markets and to friends, but now, it’s easier,” said Georganne Bender, a retail consultant in Illinois who managed a ladies’ boutique in the 1980s along the Magnificent Mile commercial district in Chicago. “There’s eBay and Poshmark and a gazillion other places.”

Bender said smaller retailers may have to consider solutions like locking doors and only allowing a limited number of guests in at a time or requiring appointments, but those options aren’t shopper friendly and “one way or another a mob intent on entering the store is going to get in.”

Best Buy CEO Corie Barry, who on an earnings call this week lamented the string of high-profile robbery incidents across the retail industry, said Tuesday on CNBC that she unsure’s what’s driving the crimes, but they remain hard to stop.

“We are finding ways where we can lock up product but still make that a good customer experience,” Barry said in the earnings call. “In some instances, we’re hiring security. We’re working with our vendors on creative ways we can stage the product.”

As retailers decry the thefts, the wave of incidents has been highlighted by industry groups to call for the strengthening of laws, which they say have been loosened to the detriment of businesses as some cities and states move toward decriminalizing certain low-level offenses.

In California, property prices and crime have actually fallen in recent years to historic lows. And experts say it remains to be seen what kind of long -term impacts such as disease and conflicts between communities and police will be in the planning of shoplifting and how it will spread.

Bender, the retail consultant, said stores are just busy concentrating on what’s coming: a major shopping weekend.

“There’s already a lot of land mines for retailers, between how to prevent shoplifters to can we get enough merchandise,” she said.

“This is a huge weekend for these stores who want people to come in and be comfortable and happy,” she added, “not thinking in the back of their minds are they going to be hit by a mob of thieves.”

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