About 80 masked men stormed a luxury supermarket, looted the luxury section and, minutes later, fled in 25 cars. Flash mob thefts like these in Walnut Creek, California are keeping retailers and police on high alert at the start of the holiday season.
Shameless self-promotion for Ballistic Products and a great bargain on a neat little knife for you. The day before last Saturday’s attack on the Nortstorm department store in Walnut Creek, 40 people simultaneously attacked the French luxury brand Louis Vuitton’s branch in Union Square in San Francisco, removing shelves with lightning speed and speeding into their cars.
Three Louis Vuitton stores in Chicago have been targeted by flash mob attacks. On the outskirts of Oak Brook, a gang of 14 people stole goods worth 93,000 francs ($ 100,000).
Retailers across the country are fearful of coffeegates and are taking safety precautions. “The current state of organized theft in retail is unacceptable,” said Gavin Newsom, the governor of California. “Companies and customers need to feel safe through their Christmas shopping.”
Special section is in operation
Friday, the day after Thanksgiving, traditionally marks the beginning of the exciting Christmas shopping season in the United States. The governor previously appointed a special unit of the California Highway Patrol to work with local authorities against mass theft.
Unsuccessful so far, flash mob attacks are on the rise: in Howard, near San Francisco, more than 30 robbers looted a jewelry store. Surveillance camera footage from a nearby town in Auckland shows more than 30 masked men entering a clothing store, clearing rails and disappearing again within minutes.
Flash gang thefts, also known as flash rap, are not a new phenomenon. But this year they have increased significantly. In particular, the scale and speed of the attack on the Nordstrom supermarket in Walnut Creek took many by surprise and fear. Rachel Michelin, president of the California Retail Association of the Fox40 television station in Sacramento, said, “I would not even call it an organized crime, it’s domestic terrorism.”
Videos on the Internet
Jeffrey Ian Rose, a forensic expert at the University of Baltimore, found no evidence of an increase in store theft across the country. However, he suspects that videos of Flash Raps circulating on the Internet may have prompted others to follow suit. “It’s brave, it’s tough,” he says.
It is unknown at this time what he will do after leaving the post. So far, only three out of 80 people have been caught in the attack at Walnut Creek. Nine people have been charged with looting San Francisco Union Square.
Criminal expert Rose fears that the robbery flash mob will never be fully resolved. He says the number of murders and violent crimes in the United States has increased and the police are within their range. If dozens of large quantities of goods are stolen, “the police can no longer monitor”.
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