Cambrian Resident

8 charged with felonies in thefts at Apple stores

- By Rick Hurd rhurd@bayareanew­

SAN FRANCISCO >> Eight people from an organized retail crime theft ring that targeted Apple stores throughout California of about $1 million in merchandis­e have been arrested and charged with multiple felonies, authoritie­s said Feb. 9.

California Attorney General Rob Bonta at a news conference said the charges against the eight men include conspiracy to commit retail theft, organized retail theft, organized retail theft, grand theft and theft in the amount over $500,000. The charges also carried an aggravated white-collar enhancemen­t, Bonta said.

The crimes happened from August to January. The Bay Area stores that were targeted were stores in Santa Clara, Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, San Francisco and Monterey counties. Stores in Yolo, Orange, San Bernardino, San Diego and Riverside counties also were hit.

Authoritie­s did not identify any of the eight who were arrested.

According to Bonta, the suspects would enter the stores and “in minutes, or seconds” grab merchandis­e while others in the gang held off employees. Bonta said drivers would be ready in a waiting vehicle to make the getaway.

“This is not petty theft,” Bonta said during the live-streamed news conference at the California Highway Patrol's Golden Gate headquarte­rs. “This is organized. This won't be tolerated in our state.”

The arrests were the result of work by a CHP crime force tasked with reducing organized retail crime. The CHP's Golden Gate Division heads that team and received help from other agencies in Northern and Southern California, according to Steve Ramos, the CHP's assistant chief for the division. The task force has arrested 853 people and recovered 290,000 stolen items with a merchandis­e value of about $28.3 million since it was formed in 2019, Ramos said.

The Oakland Police Department, the Riverside Sheriff's Office, the FBI's San Francisco Division and the U.S. Marshal's Northern Division office all were part of the investigat­ion.

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