STOCKTON, Calif. (KTXL) — With a new focus on organized retail thefts, district attorneys from San Joaquin, Contra Costa, Alameda, San Francisco, Marin, San Mateo and Santa Clara counties announced a new regional approach Wednesday to catching and prosecuting those crimes.
From San Francisco to Concord to San Jose, mobs of thieves have hit several high-end stores in recent days.
“By doing this they created an atmosphere where people aren’t able to feel comfortable. So the community is a victim,” said San Joaquin County District Attorney Tori Verber-Salazar. “Also, the community is going to suffer the consequence of increased pricing. So, they victimize all of us by doing this.”
Each district attorney’s office will devote a deputy DA and an investigator to work with their regional partners to catch and prosecute the people committing these crimes.
“We’re coming after you and we’re going to be monitoring everything we possibly can and using every advancement and technology we have to find out where these crews are located, where they’re warehousing or fencing these items, and who’s purchasing,” Verber-Salazar said.
In San Joaquin County, those organized retail crime rings often target stores in the mall like Ulta, Macy’s and Dillard’s.
“What we were finding is that they were purposely going from county to county,” Verber-Salazar explained.
People who buy stolen goods could also face felony charges.
“As a community, do not support organized crime by purchasing stolen items,” Verber-Salazar said.
Verber-Salazar told FOX40 the new focus on organized retail thefts will increase their caseload and means diverting resources from violent crimes.
Some shoppers said it’s worth it to feel safer this holiday season.
“I think it’s just terrible that people do that,” said shopper Jennifer Castillo. “They go in and just terrorize, and they’re terrorizing.”
“It angers me,” said shopper Gloria Godvey. “It angers me that people are so bold and blatant that they can go and do it, and then not get caught for it.”
Castillo and Godvey said fear of being caught up in the burglaries has changed their shopping habits.
“I don’t go on the weekends,” Godvey said. “I only go during the weekdays, and then in the morning time, you know, not at night. I don’t go at night at all.”