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Four men burst into an Apple store in broad daylight and stole $20,000 worth of merchandise in another smash-and-grab attack in California.
The incident took place at Santa Rosa Plaza, about 50 miles from San Francisco, on Wednesday morning.
“Four young men, believed by police to be between the ages of 14 and 18, entered and grabbed the merch before fleeing in what authorities called a ‘brazen daytime burglary’ in broad daylight,” the Daily Mail reported.
“In a brazen daytime burglary in front of customers and staff, the suspects grabbed over $20,000 worth of merchandise from the store and fled the area in an unknown vehicle,” Santa Rosa police said in a statement, according to The Hill.
A group of thieves also hit a Nordstrom store in the Los Angeles area on Wednesday evening, stealing at least seven luxury handbags and assaulting a guard before making a clean getaway.
Five people, one wearing an orange wig, entered the store in Canoga Park just before 7 p.m. and sprayed a security guard with “some kind of chemical” as terrified shoppers fled, according to the Mail.
“The thieves sped off and managed to escape with thousands of dollars worth of handbags despite multiple police cruisers, as well as fire trucks and ambulances, responding to the raid,” said the Mail.
A rash of flash thefts have occurred across California in San Jose, Santana Row, Hayward, and Walnut Creek. In each, waves of thieves — in one instance a mob of about 80 — stormed into stores and stole as much as they could carry. Thieves have stolen tens of thousands of dollars worth of luxury goods, but often face little consequence amid soft misdemeanor theft laws passed in 2014 by voters in the Democrat-run state.
But the robbers aren’t acting alone. “Law enforcement say that mercenary thieves are being recruited for up to $1,000 to steal the expensive goods which are then shipped across state lines and sold on the internet. The sophisticated method makes it harder for cops to track the criminals,” the Mail reported.
Meanwhile, a debate has broken out about what to call the thefts.
Police and law enforcement “experts” in California are saying that the recent surge of smash-and-grab thefts in California shouldn’t be called “looting” because that term carries racial connotations.
That has prompted a spokesman for the San Diego Police Department to call the thefts “organized robbery,” according to a new report.
The large-scale thefts aren’t considered looting under the California Penal Code, according to a report Tuesday by ABC affiliate KGO. “The penal code defines looting as ‘theft or burglary … during a ‘state of emergency,’ ‘local emergency,’ or ‘evacuation order’ resulting from an earthquake, fire, flood, riot or other natural or manmade disaster,’” the report said.
“As the Bay Area grapples with a wave of seemingly organized smash and grab robberies this weekend, policing and journalism analysts are cautioning against the use of the term looting,” Race and Social Justice Reporter Julian Glover said.