Nov 24, 2021 - Economy

Brazen shoplifting schemes sweep the U.S.

San Francisco's Union Square

San Francisco's Union Square. Photo: Miikka Skaffari/Getty Images

As the holiday season gets underway, groups of thieves have undertaken brazen shoplifting exploits at stores across the U.S.

Why it matters: Organized retail crime costs retailers on average $700,000 per $1 billion in sales annually, per estimates from the National Retail Federation, and companies are blaming store closures and profit dips on the shoplifting scourge.

State of play: On Monday, a group of 20 thieves used a sledgehammer and an e-bike to smash into and steal from the Nordstrom in The Grove, a luxury mall in Los Angeles.

  • On Friday evening, a group of thieves ransacked several stores in San Francisco's Union Square shopping district, breaking into luxury stores, including Louis Vuitton, Burberry and Bloomingdales, AP reported.
  • On Saturday night, about 80 people looted and assaulted employees at a Nordstrom in Walnut Creek, a town about 25 miles northeast of San Francisco, per CBS SF Bay Area.

Organized shoplifting exploits also hit other parts of Northern California this weekend, including Hayward and San Jose, the San Francisco Chronicle reported.

  • More than a dozen thieves looted a Louis Vuitton store in Chicago last week, stealing more than $100,000 worth of merchandise, per CNN.
  • Last month, Walgreens announced it was closing five San Francisco stores due to a rise in "organized retail crime," the New York Times reported.

Best Buy on Tuesday blamed organized theft as a reason behind a decline in gross profit margin in Q3. The news hit the company's stock price.

  • California Gov. Gavin Newsom has vowed to increase security measures to counter the rise in theft, per a press release from the governor's office.

What they're saying: "This is traumatizing for our associates and is unacceptable," Best Buy CEO Corie Barry said of the rise of organized crime on a call with analysts Tuesday, per CNN.

  • California Gov. Gavin Newsom addressed the spate of recent robberies on Monday, Monday, saying he has "no sympathy" for "people smashing and grabbing ... creating havoc and terror in our streets."

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