Thieves rushed into a southern California Nordstrom store the night before Thanksgiving and ran off with pricey goods in the latest of a string of organized retail thefts in the state.
The robberies have been marked by swift attacks by large groups of people, often as the shops are open.
In the latest incident five people, one wearing an orange wig, entered the open store shortly before 7pm on Wednesday at the Westfield Topanga Mall in the Canoga Park area of Los Angeles, took seven or eight expensive purses and fled in a car, police said.
A security guard was sprayed with some kind of chemical by the thieves and was treated at the scene, police said.
Police cars and ambulances converged on the mall but there were no immediate arrests.
In recent weeks, groups of people, some armed with hammers and crowbars, have smashed their way into closed high-end stores in cities across California and made off with tens of thousands of dollars in goods, authorities said.
Over the weekend, groups of people robbed luxury stores in several Bay Area cities, stealing jewelry, sunglasses, suitcases and other merchandise before fleeing in cars. On Sunday, 30 to 40 people tried to rob the RealReal clothing boutique in Palo Alto. On Monday night, about 20 people struck a Nordstrom store at the Grove retail and entertainment complex in Los Angeles and fled with about $5,000 worth of merchandise, police said. And in Santa Rosa, four young men ran into an Apple Store on Wednesday morning and fled with $20,000 in goods, police said.
Police departments in several California cities have responded by stepping up patrols and stores have been increasing security. The California governor, Gavin Newsom, announced there would be greater police presence around “highly trafficked” shopping malls. He also said the California highway patrol stepped up patrols along nearby highway corridors after the thefts and asked local officials how they could help.
On Wednesday, five people pleaded not guiltyto felony charges involving thefts in San Francisco. Nine people have been charged in connection with Friday night’s robberies in the Bay Area city. .
Police in Palo Alto announced two women were arrested in connection with Sunday night’s attempt to rob the RealReal store. The women were stopped in a car where police said they found at least $15,000 in clothes from a second RealReal location that was burglarized in Larkspur earlier that night.