DA, local legislator chime in on organized theft

·2 min read

Nov. 26—Following numerous flash-mob robberies at high-end retailers in the Bay Area in the last week, San Joaquin County District Attorney Tori Verber Salazar has announced an alliance between Contra Costa, Alameda, San Francisco, Marin, San Mateo, and Santa Clara counties, law enforcement, and state agencies to combat the recent increase in organized theft.

Each office has pledged a prosecutor to collaborate and participate in the joint effort.

"Organized retail theft has adverse and costly impacts on business owners and consumers alike," Verber Salazar said. "Through a partnership with our neighboring counties, we will hold all parties accountable, including fencing rings and individuals who purchase stolen goods. We implore the community to report suspicious resell activity to assist law enforcement's efforts in tracking organized retail theft rings."

The brazen thefts have also caught the attention of local Assemblyman Jim Cooper, who says past legislation has spurred the crime sprees.

"The public needs to know that there is a direct correlation between rampant serial theft and voters being duped by proponents of Proposition 47," Cooper said in a press release. "We are watching an epidemic of theft caused by Proposition 47 that over promised and under delivered, which has quite literally, turned California into the Wild Wild West.

"Without immediate action by the Legislature, emboldened thieves will continue to blatantly break the law with no consequences resulting in loss of jobs, increased costs for day-to-day essentials for working-class families and increased risk to the public's safety."

Prop 47, passed by voters in 2014, recategorized some nonviolent offenses as misdemeanors, rather than felonies, as they had previously been categorized.

The new partnership between counties and local agencies would allow for the sharing of information through data collection, crime analytics, as well as pooled investigative tools to successfully prosecute those involved with organized retail theft schemes, according to Verber Salazar. In addition to the shared resources between counties, the DAs would continue to collaborate with their local retailers and state representatives to ensure statues that cover organized theft rings are enforceable and improve safety for consumers.

"The recent acts of retail thefts, robberies and mass-mob burglaries throughout Northern California will not be tolerated. These are clearly carefully orchestrated crimes, working together in large groups to create a mob-like mentality," said Alameda County District Attorney Nancy O'Malley. They are instilling fear in merchants, customers and the wider community. This is especially appalling at a time where many are out and about during the holiday season. Be assured that those caught and arrested will be prosecuted to the full extent of the law."

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