Story at a glance

  • Over the last week San Francisco has experienced a wave of thefts across the city.
  • Thieves organized to rob upscale retailers like Louis Vuitton and Burberry.
  • The crimes appear to have been organized, with up to 30 people believed to have been involved.

Over the last week San Francisco has experienced a string of mass thefts at businesses from high-end retail stores to a cannabis dispensary, and now the city and state are attempting to reign in the chaos.

According to a timeline created by local media, the recent thefts in San Francisco began on Monday, Nov. 15 when robbers ransacked a local jewelry store. In the days following, robberies were reported across the city, and by Friday, Nov. 19, the crimes escalated when a group of thieves organized around Union Square, an upscale shopping district, and began breaking into retail shops Louis Vuitton, Bloomingdales and Burberry.

The robberies continued well into the weekend, with a dozen thieves organizing to rob a Nordstrom department store. The thieves fled the scene in 10 different getaway cars.

The robberies have garnered national attention, and the city of San Francisco and the state’s governor Gavin Newsom are attempting to bring down the hammer on those involved and ease resident’s fears.  

Chesa Boudin, San Francisco district attorney, announced on Tuesday that nine people had been arrested on felony charges in connection with Friday’s burglaries at Union Square. Of those nine suspects, five were arrested in connection with thefts at a Louis Vuitton store, three in connection with a burglary of a cannabis dispensary and one for burglarizing a Walgreens in Union Square.


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Among the charges are grand theft, second-degree commercial burglary and looting during a state of emergency. Two of the suspects are also being charged for possession of a loaded firearm, with one of them having a prior felony charge.

Though only nine have been arrested, somewhere between 20 to 30 individuals are believed to have been involved with the robberies.

Walnut Creek Police Department, the neighborhood where a robbed Nordstrom store is located, announced it had also arrested three people in connection with the robbery. Two Nordstrom employees were also assaulted during the incident and one was pepper sprayed. 

In response to the wave of robberies, San Francisco mayor London Breed laid out a response plan with the city’s police department and transportation agency. It included restricted vehicle access to certain areas around the upscale retail shopping district Union Square. The goal, according to Breed is to, “inhibit smash and grab burglaries where suspects flee in their cars.”

Newsom commented on the string of mass thefts while visiting a vaccine clinic in the San Francisco Bay area and, according to local media, said “we want people prosecuted and we want people to feel safe this holiday season. Why are we here? We’re talking about safety, people’s health. We want to protect people and we want to respect people’s rights, including small business owners and I say this knowing that my business has been broken into three times this year.”

The Public Policy Institute of California released a crime report earlier this year that found commercial burglaries increased by roughly 20 percent in California in 2020 and the highest rate of property crime occurred in the San Francisco Bay area.

However, San Francisco isn’t the only state suffering from a wave of thefts. In Illinois two suburban malls experienced burglaries, with one also happening at a Louis Vuitton store, located in Oakbrook, Ill. Robbers got away with $120,000 worth of merchandise, with 14 thieves running away in three separate getaway cars.


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Published on Nov 24, 2021