San Francisco announces wave of felony charges after rise in shoplifting incidents

On Tuesday, San Francisco District Attorney Chesa Boudin said that he charged nine people with felonies so far in connection to a series of shoplifting incidents. The shoplifting included a mass “smash-and-grab” at Union Square luxury stores.

More than 40 people broke into a Louis Vuitton store on Friday, taking whatever they could before loading the merchandise into several vehicles parked out front. The group of cars cut through several of the city’s high-end stores, creating chaos while swiping more than $1 million in merchandise. Two of the nine charged with felonies were additionally charged for possession of firearms during the incident.

“These are not petty thefts. These are not misdemeanor conduct. This is felony conduct,” said Boudin. “We are charging felonies today.” Boudin also said the nine face charges of grand theft, commercial burglary, and possession of stolen goods at the felony level. The prosecutor said that he would seek in court to have two of those charge kept behind bars due to the nature of their alleged crimes.

According to the district attorney’s office, five people were arrested in connection to their role in the incident at the Louis Vuitton store, three others for burglarizing a cannabis dispensary, and one other for burglarizing a Walgreens. Boudin is facing a recall election in June because his critics say he has a lenient approach toward criminals. 

The city’s police chief, Bill Scott, said in an interview on Tuesday, “We are going to do everything we can to put a stop to this craziness.” But, he continued, “we don’t have to shut down Union Square.”

Scott noted that instead, his officers will prevent people from driving up to storefronts like Luis Vuitton. “In these spots,” he said, “people were pulling up right in front and then running in the store, grabbing what they could and jumping back in their vehicles. We are going to disrupt that.” Scott added that he will be placing several officers in such areas to stop a mob of 40 to 50 people from overwhelming store security presence.

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