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SAN FRANCISCO: High End Retail Stores Board Up Windows To Prevent Organized Looting Over Christmas Season

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Several retail stores in San Francisco are boarding up in prevention of smash-and-grab robberies that have plagued the bay area. At least six stores in San Francisco’s Union Square are now boarded up amidst the typically festive Christmas season, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.

Videos posted to social media depict organized smash-and-grab retail thefts committed by large groups have gone viral in recent months. These high profile videos include the robbery of a Union Square Louis Vuitton store that was “emptied out” on November 19, according to law enforcement officials.

Theft of goods valued less than $1,000 is classified as a misdemeanor in California. Governor Gavin Newsom recently signed legislation that would elevate this to a felony, but only if the accused individual is part of an organized theft ring.

On November 23, San Francisco District Attorney Chesa Boudin filed charges against nine individuals who are suspected of robbing the Louis Vuitton store, as well as other retail locations. “These brazen acts will not be tolerated in San Francisco,” Boudin said in an announcement of the charges.

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“Last weekend, there were similar incidents in Walnut Creek, Hayward, Oakland, and San Jose. Other Bay Area prosecutors and I have been collaborating to share information and develop strategies to combat these coordinated incidents.”

In Oakland, a clothing store called Prime 356 was also “cleaned out” in a viral video earlier this month. The robbery was the second such incident in less than a month. A security guard was later shot and killed while providing security for a news crew that was covering the theft. Kevin Nishita, a former police officer, was shot in the stomach after a group of armed men tried to rob the crew for their camera equipment.

Similar thefts have occurred in Los Angeles and Beverley Hills. Police made multiple arrests after a “caravan” of vehicles stormed a Home Depot on Black Friday and stole large quantities of tools. Multiple suspects arrested in connection with the Home Depot looting session are suspected to have been involved with a similar incident in Beverley Hills.

In response to the repeated thefts, an increasing number of locations are opting to board up or close entirely. Walgreens recently announced the closure of multiple locations in San Francisco, saying the locations were robbed 4X more than the rest of the country.

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