Retailers in the United States are being terrorized by flash mob thefts in the run-up to Christmas.
As the holiday shopping season approaches, US shops are beefing up security and locking up merchandise following a series of flash mob heists involving dozens of burglars at once surprised luxury businesses in the San Francisco region and beyond.
On Saturday, roughly 80 masked people in 25 cars invaded a high-end Nordstrom department store in Walnut Creek, California, east of San Francisco, robbing its first-floor luxury goods counters in a matter of minutes before fleeing.
That happened one day after 40 people drove up to a Louis Vuitton store in San Francisco’s Union Square and swamped it, quickly emptying its shelves before hopping into cars and speeding away.
A group of 14 crooks burst into a Louis Vuitton store in the Oak Brook area, stealing more than $100,00 worth of expensive bags and clothing. It was the third time in a month that a Vuitton store in the Chicago region had been targeted.
Retailers around the country are paying attention and taking precautions to avoid possible copycat attacks, as the robbery gangs’ sheer size and ability to plan in secret have made them nearly impossible to stop.
California Governor Gavin Newsom said Tuesday, “The degree of organized retail fraud we are seeing is simply intolerable.”
“Both businesses and customers should feel secure when purchasing for the holidays.”
The thefts occur at a crucial point in the shopping season.
Thanksgiving is on Thursday, and the day after the holiday is known as “Black Friday,” the start of America’s frantic Christmas shopping season.
Newsom has directed the California Highway Patrol to form a special task force to engage with local governments to combat the theft problem.
Despite the action, the number of flash mob thefts increased, with a group of 30 to 40 people robbing a jewelry store in Hayward, near San Francisco.
A streetwear business in adjacent Oakland was robbed: CCTV footage shows more than 30 masked, hooded persons squeezing into the small shop, snatching collectible shoes and clothing, and sprinting out in under a minute.
Flash mob thefts, sometimes known as “flash robs,” have been happening for a while, but they’ve picked up steam in 2021, afflicting owners of tiny pharmacies, mid-level chain retail stores, and high-end luxury products.
The Nordstrom attack in Walnut Creek, on the other hand, astonished many with its scale and quickness.
Rachel Michelin, president of the California Retailers Association, told Fox40 news in Sacramento, “I wouldn’t even characterize that as organized crime, that was domestic terrorism.”
Jeffrey. The Washington Newsday Brief News is a daily newspaper published in Washington, D.C.