17 Charged In $1 Million robbery scheme targeting Apple Stores

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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 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.”

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.

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.

On Tuesday afternoon, six to eight suspects stole multiple products from an Apple store in Emeryville, police said.

The theft occurred at about 12:20 p.m. at 5640 Bay St. in what police described as a grab-and-run theft.

Reza Hosseini witnessed the most recent theft at the Emeryville Apple store right across the street from his condo.

“At 1:30, three cars came and basically ransacked the whole Apple store,” said Hosseini. “Why can’t they catch whoever they are?”

As of Tuesday evening, police weren’t sure how many products the suspects got away with.

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.

Last month, five people from Fresno, Sacramento and the East Bay city of Antioch were arrested on suspicion of being an organized retail theft crew after a weekend heist at a Southern California Apple store led to an altercation with mall customers.

Three Antioch residents, 19-year-old Terry Timothy, 23-year-old Edward Benton and 24-year-old Donte Sims, were arrested in connection with heists in Thousand Oaks and Los Angeles County. Authorities also arrested 23-year-old Mona Shakyizia of Sacramento and 26-year-old Tynisha Noel of Fresno.

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