Last Updated on November 28, 2022
Thieves stole over $180,000 worth of camera equipment in yet another smash-and-grab robbery near San Francisco’s shopping hub of Union Square. Retailers in the city and across the state of California have increased security ahead of the Christmas shopping season, with some opting to again board up windows during the otherwise festive period. Organized retail theft has led to dozens of shop closures and millions-of-dollars of revenue loss in the bay area since 2020, with many blaming the state’s lax laws on shoplifting.
Surveillance video from the camera equipment heist shows four men exiting a grey sedan around 1:20 p.m. on Saturday. At least one individual can be seen brandishing a firearm as the group entered the Leica store, which sells high-end camera equipment.
Another individual in the group can be seen using some type of tool to smash display cases while the entire crew proceeded to grab as much merchandise as they could. The thieves ultimately made off with more than $180,000 worth of equipment in less than four minutes.
According to ABC7, the robbers also caused upwards of $20,000 dollars in property damage.
Nearly $180,000 in merchandise was stolen from a camera shop in a lightning-fast armed robbery near San Francisco's Union Square.
— International Crisis Room 360 (@ICR360) November 28, 2022
The latest smash-and-grab robbery comes just days after San Francisco Mayor London Breed and city police chief Bill Scott attempted to assuage the fears of both shoppers and retailers in the area. A number of high-end retailers, including the Louis Vuitton store in Union Square, were cleaned out by organized thieves last year.
At least six stores in San Francisco’s Union Square opted to board up during the otherwise festive Christmas season last year as a result of the consistent robberies.
Louis Vuitton San Francisco, Union square got cleared out!! pic.twitter.com/7Sz6rlRo8n
— Da Juan (@CARLITOSGUEY) November 20, 2021
Critics have blamed California’s Proposition 47, which downgraded multiple crimes such as shoplifting, grand theft, receiving stolen property, forgery, and fraud from felonies to misdemeanors. Theft of items worth less than $1,000 was downgraded to a misdemeanor, leading to many thieves carrying in sacks that they proceed to fill with merchandise.
California Governor Gavin Newsom upgraded such theft to a felony last year, but only if the thieves are part of an organized ring.