SACRAMENTO -- Law enforcement officials say the Bully Boys and Coco Boys gangs worked together to target small businesses in 13 California counties, stealing hundreds of identities and thousands of dollars.
"It may not be as physically harmful and dangerous as being accosted on the street, but I can guarantee you, it hurts just as much," Attorney General Xavier Becerra said. "We found that these stolen terminals had been used to process over $1 million in fraudulent returns. Now, that's what we found. We know there's more out there."
Over the course of a three-year investigation, police realized the small business burglaries were a coordinated effort.
Investigators have identified 32 people involved in the gang activity and arrested 25.
"These guys were actually networking and doing this in ways that went just beyond just their hood," Becerra said.
So far, the suspects are facing at least 240 criminal charges, including 54 counts of hacking, 59 counts of burglary and eight counts of identity theft.
Law enforcement officials say the case is a sign that gangs are evolving.
"If two gangs could be this sophisticated and yet very simply victimize nearly a million dollars worth of merchandise in very short order, there's others that could do it," Vacaville Police Chief John Carli said.
Now, officials are warning both businesses and their customers to take extra steps to secure their personal and financial information.
"It better be a wake-up call, because it's no longer the Equifax and the Facebook breaches," Becerra said. "It's now your local dentist and your local doctor."