Police Arrest 4 Suspects in Organized Retail Theft, Recover $10,000 in Stolen Lululemon Merchandise

Officers with the Walnut Creek Police Department in northern California arrested four suspects in an organized retail crime ring after they were tipped off by neighboring Bay Area authorities.

On Wednesday, the officer responsible for patrolling Walnut Creek’s popular Broadway Plaza shopping district, where Nordstrom previously retained its own dedicated police resources, received information about two thefts at Lululemon stores in nearby Napa and Santa Rosa. The intel suggested the suspects were headed to Walnut Creek to try to return the stolen merchandise at the Broadway Plaza Lululemon location, about 25 miles northwest of San Francisco.

The Broadway Plaza officer worked in concert with loss prevention staff to identify the suspects based on photos of them and their vehicles. Police observed the four suspects inside the Lululemon store and detained them “without incident.” Law enforcement recovered nearly $10,000 worth of stolen Lululemon merchandise from the suspects’ vehicles. Suspects were charged with organized retail theft, possession of stolen property, conspiracy to commit a crime, possession of burglary tools, probation violation and fugitive from justice.

“We are thankful for the relationships WCPD has formed with our retail partners and allied law
enforcement agencies,” Walnut Creek police said in a statement dated Oct. 20. “This has led to an enhanced response to organized retail crime, which often involves groups committing crimes in multiple jurisdictions.”

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Thieves commonly target Lululemon goods they can quickly resell on secondary markets. A recent bust recovered merchandise stolen from the popular yogawear brand while employees at a Lululemon store in Atlanta were terminated after trying to stop a robbery in progress.

The Walnut Creek operation came after San Francisco authorities arrested two suspects in connection to a smash-and-grab robbery caught on camera at the Union Square Christian Dior store last week.

The San Francisco District Attorney’s office charged two suspects with multiple counts including second-degree commercial burglary, grand theft, organized retail theft, conspiracy and resisting arrest after crashing a vehicle into the Dior store and stealing merchandise including luxury handbags.

The San Francisco Police Department (SFPD) said the suspects arraigned Monday arrived on Oct. 12 in three vehicles before the store opened. Witnesses told SFPD that the suspects rammed their vehicle into store’s exterior windows and security gate. The suspects were apprehended after attempting to flee in their vehicles.

In a statement on Tuesday, SFPD said that the suspects had also attempted to break into the nearby Fendi store just minutes earlier. “The early morning smash and grab at Christian Dior is one more example of how brazen some thieves have become,” District Attorney Brooke Jenkins said. “This conduct is completely unacceptable and will be prosecuted vigorously.”

The Christian Dior logo seen in San Francisco.

Alex Tai/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

“I would also like to thank the San Francisco Police Department for their swift action in responding to this incident and arresting these suspects,” she added. “We will not let up on our efforts to improve public safety and demonstrate our resolve to those who choose to engage in criminal activity in our community.”

The robbery is the latest blow to Union Square, where popular department stores have pulled up stakes and even the San Francisco Centre mall is calling it quits due to factors including crime.

Down in Los Angeles, police arrested a suspect on Wednesday on suspicion of beating a store employee at a boutique in Chinatown on Sept. 14. Video footage showed the suspect repeatedly hitting and shoving the employee to the ground before fleeing with stolen merchandise.

“As the employee attempted to stop him, the suspect assaulted the employee,” the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) said in a statement this week. The employee was hospitalized for her injuries.

The suspect was apprehended while trying to evade capture in the backyard of a home in Hawthorne, Calif., LAPD said.

The L.A. Organized Retail Crime Task Force has made notable progress since it launched in August. It announced the capture and arrest of three L.A. area suspects in connection with an Oct. 5 smash and grab at a jewelry store in the El Paseo neighborhood of Palm Desert, Calif. The task force made the announcement alongside the Riverside Sheriff’s Dept. in Palm Desert, the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, and the Office of Correctional Safety Fugitive Team.

Suspects wearing hoodies and masks smashed a jewelry display case with a hammer and stole high-value product, the Riverside County Sheriff’s Dept. said. During the investigation, law enforcement uncovered evidence that helped them identify the suspects, who they believed were linked to two residential burglaries.

Three suspects were arrested in conjunction with the crimes after serving four residential search warrants. They were booked on charges of robbery and burglary at the John Benoit Detention Center in Indio, Calif.

The task force has arrested 42, filed 25 criminal cases, and recovered about $125,000 in property and case as of earlier this month. The City of Los Angeles and the LAPD received a $15.6 million grant in September as a part of statewide campaign to crack down on retail crime.

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