Nov. 22 (UPI) — Authorities said Sunday that three people were in custody after dozens ransacked a San Francisco Bay Area department store a night earlier.
The police department for the city of Walnut Creek, located about 25 miles northeast of San Francisco, said in a statement that about 80 people entered the Broadway Plaza Nordstrom store before 9 p.m. Saturday and “immediately began stealing merchandise” in what it described as “an organized theft.”
The horde assaulted two employees, including one who was pepper-sprayed, police said.
Officers on arrival stopped a car at the scene, arresting two people, one of whom was in possession of a firearm, while a third person in possession of stolen Nordstrom property was arrested nearby.
“The remaining participants in this criminal mob fled from the area in cars at high speeds,” the department said, adding that investigators were processing surveillance footage to identify other suspects “responsible for this brazen act.”
In a statement later Sunday, police said they are warning the community as they monitor intelligence indicating the group responsible for Saturday night’s theft was considering a similar attack throughout the day.
“This has not been confirmed, but out of an abundance of caution we’re alerting businesses and residents to be prepared,” it said. “The PD is calling out (additional) officers and reserves, and some stores may consider closing earlier or taking other precautions. There is no specific time or target known right now.”
The theft occurred a day after several stores in San Francisco’s Union Square were looted and vandalized Friday night, Kron reported.
San Francisco public information officer Robert Rueca tweeted that officers responded to the scene at about 8:10 p.m. resulting in multiple arrests.
Chesa Boudin, the city’s district attorney, said his organized retail theft task force is leading more than half a dozen agency investigations to “dismantle fencing operations that make crime profitable.”
“I’m outraged by the looting in Union Square last night. We are seeing similar crimes across the country. I have a simple message: don’t bring that noise to our city,” he said in a separate tweet. “Standby for felony charges.”