Seventeen people have been arrested and charged for a robbery scheme targeting Apple retail stores across the state that resulted in the loss of more than $1 million, California Attorney General Xavier Becerra announced Thursday.
The defendants are charged with entering Apple retail stores in large groups while wearing hoodies and snatching products on display in a matter of seconds, Becerra said. He said the alleged crimes took place in 19 counties.
Seven adults were arrested on Tuesday and booked into the Alameda County Jail and another suspect is currently in custody in Sonoma County, according to Becerra.
Arrest warrants have been issued for nine other suspects and the investigation is ongoing, Becerra said.
Becerra said in a statement:
“Organized retail thefts cost California business owners millions and expose them to copycat criminals. 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.”
Oakland police Chief Anne Kirkpatrick said:
“The successful collaborative efforts of law enforcement have resulted in dismantling a large criminal ring.”
Becerra said the arrests are the result of an investigation conducted by Oakland and San Luis Obispo police, with the assistance of the California Department of Justice’s eCrime Unit.
He said San Luis Obispo police initiated the investigation following a series of thefts from Apple stores.
Local law enforcement agencies from seven Bay Area counties were among agencies in 19 counties that assisted in the investigation: Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, San Francisco, San Mateo, Santa Clara and Sonoma counties.
Becerra said he has filed charges for conspiracy to commit grand theft against the defendants in Fresno, Santa Clara, and Alameda counties.