A mob of robbers targeted stores in Hayward and San Jose, Calif., on Sunday, marking the third consecutive day of smash-and-grab looting in the San Francisco Bay Area.
Around 5:30 p.m. Sunday, police said they responded to multiple disturbance calls at the Southland Mall in Hayward, where a swarm of thieves reportedly ransacked a jewelry store, smashing glass counters and running off with the plunder.
A first wave of 30-40 youths arrived at the store to steal the merchandise, with a second, smaller wave arriving shortly after to finish the job, Da Lin of KPIX-TV reported.
A large mob robbed Sam’s Jewelers inside Southland Mall, Hayward. PD said they received calls at 5:25 pm today. Witnesses told me 1st wave of robbers involved about 30-40 kids. A 2nd wave with fewer robbers returned to clean it up. Story tonight 11 on Ch 5 @KPIXtv pic.twitter.com/1kXj5N4UT2
— Da Lin (@DaKPIX) November 22, 2021
“I would say at least 30 to 40 [people] from what I saw,” a witness told San Francisco CBS Local. “But then after the main group of kids rushed out, we saw 15 to 20 scattering, some even came back in.”
Two women who work near Sam’s Jewelers told KPIX that some kids ran into other stores and left with shoes and clothing, prompting some nearby stores in the ball to board up in anticipation of more theft.
“We saw all the other stores closing. They were panicking, so we were panicking and quickly closed our store and barricaded ourselves,” said one witness.
“It was very scary,” a mall worker told the TV station. “People with no morals, no sense for other people’s safety. I feel helpless. It’s disturbing.”
At around 6:30 p.m. in San Jose, police said that a mob shoplifted the Lululemon store in Santana Row before they could arrive at the scene.
Earlier that day, police had warned on Twitter that robbers might be coordinating a series of heists in the Bay Area. They notified businesses to prepare for such incidents in case but did not commit to sending police officers to shopping malls as a precaution. On Saturday, the day prior, a group of looters hit a Nordstrom in Walnut Creek, assaulting staff and intimidating patrons, reportedly pepper spraying a few.
“The Walnut Creek Police Department is actively monitoring intelligence that indicates the group of thieves who stole from the Broadway Plaza Nordstrom last night are considering similar activity later today,” police tweeted Sunday.
“This has not been confirmed, but out of an abundance of caution, we’re alerting businesses and residents to be prepared… some stores may consider closing early or taking other precautions. There is no specific time or target known right now,” they said.
Thieves attacked a Louis Vuitton store in San Francisco’s Union Square on Friday.
Shoplifting has spiked in San Francisco since the pandemic began, prompting retail chains such as Walgreens and CVS to shutter locations. Critics of the state’s approach to law enforcement have argued that criminals are emboldened by a state law which treats theft of less than $950 in property as a misdemeanor, for which offenders are rarely prosecuted. In June, roughly 76 percent of San Francisco residents said they wanted more policing in high-crime neighborhoods, according to a poll commissioned by the city’s chamber of commerce.