Authorities planning to file felony charges in San Francisco retail thefts

San Francisco's district attorney is preparing to announce felony charges against eight people arrested in connection with a mass retail theft that occurred Friday night.

District Attorney Chesa Boudin told local news station KPIX 5 on Tuesday that he was close to announcing the charges against the eight suspects, who were part of an organized group that stole more than $1 million in a series of smash-and-grabs at various stores in Union Square, a shopping plaza in the city. Boudin said 25 additional individuals were involved in the crime, and police were working to apprehend them.

"We make sure there are consequences," Boudin said. "We are doing everything in our power to make sure San Francisco is safe and feels safe."

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Retail stores nationwide have dealt with a surge in thefts and break-ins. Last night, 20 people broke into and stole from a Nordstrom in Los Angeles. But San Francisco has seen a high volume of the organized crimes, and police have been adding officers to its Organized Retail Crime Unit to address the issue in the city.

Boudin said in the Tuesday interview that San Francisco police are "spread thin" and are hard-pressed responding to all property crimes. The district attorney is facing a recall election in June as he sustains criticism for his allegedly lax policies — including releasing some low-level offenders and refusing to prosecute some offenses — that some say have invited crime. 

But Boudin noted that the spate of retail crimes is not unique to San Francisco.

"Anybody who tries to say the crimes we witnessed last weekend are the result of a specific policy by a specific elected official, is trying to distract you from the bigger picture issues," he said. "This is far bigger than any one official or any one policy."

After the Union Square incident, Boudin tweeted that such a mass theft "must not happen again."

Boudin has set up a "retail theft task force" that is working on more than six investigations to "dismantle fencing operations that make crime profitable," according to his Twitter feed.