Ria Roebuck Joseph | Center Square contributor
(The Center Square) – In a press statement released by California Attorney General Rob Bonta on organized retail theft, it was revealed that for every $1 billion in sales, retailers lose around $700,000.
Bonta revealed that his latest prosecution relates to eight individuals who had been arrested and charged for organized theft of products from primarily Apple retail stores across California amounting to approximately $1 million. The suspects allegedly hit stores in Nevada, Washington, Oregon, Utah, Arizona, Alabama and Georgia as well.
The Attorney General expressed his gratitude for the work in this case. “I want to thank our law enforcement partners, including the California Highway Patrol, for their work in apprehending these suspects, and for our continued collaborative efforts to end organized retail theft. With these charges, we’re moving forward to hold these defendants accountable.”
The alleged crimes involved the individuals entering the Apple stores, restraining employees and customers, and stealing iphones and tablets worth tens of thousands of dollars from each outlet between August of last year and January 2023.
The persecution came “as a result of a collaborative multi-agency investigation that included the California Highway Patrol’s Organized Retail Theft Crimes Task Force (ORCTF), Oakland Police Department, Riverside Sheriff’s Office, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) San Francisco Field Office, and the U.S. Marshal’s Office (Northern Division).”
“The California Highway Patrol’s partnerships with local, state, and federal agencies, along with our private industry, continue to result in arrests and recovery of millions of dollars in stolen products,” California Highway Patrol, Golden Gate Division Chief Ezery Beauchamp said. “I would like to recognize the incredible work done by all those involved and acknowledge the Attorney General’s Office for their ongoing support and determination to prosecute these cases.”
In recent years Apple Stores has seen a spate of smash-and-grab robberies at locations across America. Seven states reported Apple store break-ins amounting to almost $1 million. In Nevada alone, five Apple locations were burglarized with a loss of $211,265. Washington, Oregon, Utah, Arizona, Alabama and Georgia also had robberies at Apple locations
Among them were:
- Washington: $111,875 (Three Apple stores)
- Oregon: $140,111 (Three Apple stores)
- Utah: $51,380 (One Apple store)
- Arizona: $30,300 (Two Apple stores)
- Alabama: $42,346 (One Apple Store)
- Georgia $44,491 (One Apple store)
In California, the suspects hit 11 counties: Yolo, Monterey, Alameda, Santa Clara, Contra Costa, Marin, San Francisco, Orange, San Bernardino, San Diego, and Riverside racking up products valued in excess of $500,000 in value.
As a result, “The suspects face multiple counts of felony charges brought by the California Department of Justice, including conspiracy to commit retail theft, organized retail theft, grand theft, theft in the amount over $500,000, and an aggravated white collar enhancement,” the release from the California Department of Justice said.
The addition of the “aggravated white collar enhancement” charge, referenced (California Penal Code § 186.11) means under state law, a California judge can add an additional two to five years to the prison sentence, if convicted.
“Organized retail theft costs businesses, retailers, and consumers – and puts the public at risk,” AG Bonta said. “Brazen criminal activity, such as the organized retail theft operation we have taken down today, will not be tolerated in California.”
Two years ago, strategies for dealing with organized retail theft were developed through a collaboration between law enforcement partners and retailers organized by Bonta.
“Organized retail theft costs businesses, retailers, and consumers – and puts the public at risk,” AG Bonta stated,”Brazen criminal activity, such as the organized retail theft operation we have taken down today, will not be tolerated in California.